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1 03  263 


THE     SOX-WEED     FACTOR 


by  John  Barth          THE  FI-OATINC  OPFJRA 

THE    KKI>    OF    XJfcUE    ROAJD  THJ£    SOT-'WJeKO    FACTOR 


The  SOT-WEED 
FACTOR 


BY   JOHN    EARTH 


DOUBLEDAY  &  COMPANY,  INC.,  GARDEN  CITY,  NEW  YORK 

1960 


All  of  the  characters  in   this  book 

are   fictitious,   and  any    resemblance 

to   actual    persons,   living  or     dead, 

is   purely   coincidental. 


Library  of  Congress   Catalog  Card  Kumber   60-0467 

Copyright  <g)    i<)6o   by    John    Barth 

All     Rights    Reserved 

Printed   in   the    United   States   «*£   Aimnrica 


£>esigrt;   Charles  Kaplan 


CONTENTS 

PART  I:    THE  MOMENTOUS  WAGER 


i :    The  Poet  Is  Introduced,  and  Differentiated  From  His  Fellows          13 

2:     The  Remarkable  Manner  in  Which  Ebenezer  Was  Educated, 
and  the  No  Less  Remarkable  Results  of  That  Education  15 

3:     Ebenezer  Is  Rescued,  and  Hears  a  Diverting  Tale  Involving 
Isaac  Newton  and  Other  Notables  22 

4:     Ebenezer's  First  Sojourn  in  London,  and  the  Issue  of  It          36 

5:     Ebenezer  Commences  His  Second  Sojourn  in  London,  and 
Fares  Unspectacularly  51 

6:     The  Momentous  Wager  Between  Ebenezer  and  Ben  Oliver, 
and  Its  Uncommon  Result  56 

7:    The  Conversation  Between  Ebenezer  and  the  Whore  Joan 
Toast,  Including  the  Tale  of  the  Great  Tom  Leech  62 

8:    A  Colloquy  Between  Men  of  Principle,  and  What  Came  of  It          72 
9:     Ebenezer's  Audience  With  Lord  Baltimore,  and  His  In- 
genious Proposal  to  That  Gentleman  83 

10:  A  Brief  Relation  of  the  Maryland  Palatinate,  Its  Origins  and 
Struggles  for  Survival,  as  Told  to  Ebenezer  by  His  Host  89 

ii :  Ebenezer  Returns  to  His  Companions,  Finds  Them  Fewer 
by  One,  Leaves  Them  Fewer  by  Another,  and  Reflects  a  Reflec- 
tion 108 


[6] 


PART  II:    GOING  TO  MALDEN 

i:    The  Laureate  Acquires  a  Notebook  117 

21    The  Laureate  Departs  From  London  128 

3:  The  Laureate  Learns  the  True  Identity  of  Colonel  Peter 
Sayer  139 

4:    The  Laureate  Hears  the  Tale  of  Burlingame's  Late  Adventures         144 
5:    Burlingame's  Tale  Continued,  Till  Its  Teller  Falls  Asleep        151 

6:  Burlingame's  Tale  Carried  Yet  Farther;  the  Laureate  Reads 
From  The  Privie  Journdl  of  Sir  Henry  Burlingame  and  Discourses 
on  the  Nature  of  Innocence  162 

7:  Burlingame's  Tale  Concluded;  the  Travelers  Arrive  at  Plym- 
outh ijj 

8:    The  Laureate  Indites  a  Quatrain  and  Fouls  His  Breeches       181 

9:  Further  Sea-Poetry,  Composed  in  the  Stables  of  the  King 
o'  the  Seas  X86 

10:  The  Laureate  Suffers  Literary  Criticism  and  Boards  the 
Poseidon  jog 

11 :    Departure  From  Albion:  the  Laureate  at  Sea  209 

12:  The  Laureate  Discourses  on  Games  of  Chance  and  Debates 
the  Relative  Gentility  of  Valets  and  Poets  Laureate.  Bertrand 
Sets  Forth  the  Anatomy  of  Sophistication  and  Demonstrates  His 
Thesis  224 

13:  The  Laureate,  Awash  in  a  Sea  of  Difficulties,  Resolves  to  Be 
Laureate,  Not  Before  Inditing  Final  Sea-Couplets  239 

14:  The  Laureate  Is  Exposed  to  Two  Assassinations  of  Character, 
a  Piracy,  a  Near-Deflowering,  a  Near-Mutiny,  a  Murder,  and 
an  Appalling  Colloquy  Between  Captains  of  the  Sea,  All  Within 
the  Space  of  a  Few  Pages  255 

15:  The  Rape  of  the  Cyprian;  Also,  the  Tale  of  Hicktopeake,  King 
of  Accomack,  and  the  Greatest  Peril  the  Laureate  Has  Fallen  Into 
Thus  Far 


16:    The  Laureate  and  Bertrand,  Left  to  Drown,  Assume  Their 
Niches  in  the  Heavenly  Pantheon  286 

17:  The  Laureate  Meets  the  Anacostin  King  and  Learns  the  True 
Name  of  His  Ocean  Isle  301 

18:  The  Laureate  Pays  His  Fare  to  Cross  a  River  312 

19:  The  Laureate  Attends  a  Swine-Maiden's  Tale  317 

20:  The  Laureate  Attends  the  Swine-Maiden  Herself  327 

21:  The  Laureate  Yet  Further  Attends  the  Swine-Maiden  340 

22:  No  Ground  Is  Gained  Towards  the  Laureate's  Ultimate 
Objective,  but  Neither  Is  Any  Lost  349 

23:  In  His  Efforts  to  Get  to  the  Bottom  of  Things  the  Laureate 
Comes  Within  Sight  of  Maiden,  but  So-  Far  From  Arriving  There, 
Nearly  Falls  Into  the  Stars  359 

24:  The  Travelers  Hear  About  the  Singular  Martyrdom  of  Father 
Joseph  FitzMaurice,  S.J.:  a  Tale  Less  Relevant  in  Appearance 
Than  It  Will  Prove  in  Fact  366 

25:  Further  Passages  From  Captain  John  Smith's  Secret  Histo* 
rie  of  the  Voiage  Up  the  Bay  of  Chesapeake:  Dorchester  Dis- 
covered, and  How  the  Captain  First  Set  Foot  Upon  It  387 

26:    The  Journey  to  Cambridge,  and  the  Laureate's  Conversation 

by  the  Way  395 

27:    The  Laureate  Asserts  That  Justice  Is  Blind,  and  Armed  With 

This  Principle,  Settles  a  Litigation  407 

28:    If  the  Laureate  Is  Adam,  Then  Burlingame  Is  the  Serpent       420 

29:  The  Unhappy  End  of  Mynheer  Wilhelm  Tick,  As  Related  to 
the  Laureate  by  Mary  Mungummory,  the  Traveling  Whore  o' 
Dorset  427 

30:  Having  Agreed  That  Naught  Is  in  Men  Save  Perfidy,  Though 
Not  Necessarily  That  Jus  est  id  quod  cliens  fecit,  the  Laureate 
at  Last  Lays  Eyes  on  His  Estate  447 

31:  The  Laureate  Attains  Husbandhood  at  No  Expense  What- 
ever of  His  Innocence  462 

32:    A  Marylandiad  Is  Brought  to  Birth,  but  Its  Deliverer  Fares 

as  Badly  as  in  Any  Other  Chapter  479 


[8] 

33:    The  Laureate  Departs  From  His  Estate  493 

PART  III:    MALDEN  EARNED 

i:  The  Poet  Encounters  a  Man  With  Naught  to  Lose,  and 
Requires  Rescuing  5°7 

2:  A  Layman's  Pandect  of  Geminology  Compended  by  Henry 
Burlingame,  Cosmophilist  S1^ 

3:  A  Colloquy  Between  Ex-Laureates  of  Maryland,  Relating 
Duly  the  Trials  of  Miss  Lucy  Robotham  and  Concluding  With  an 
Assertion  Not  Lightly  Matched  for  Its  Implausibility  529 

4:  The  Poet  Crosses  Chesapeake  Bay,  but  Not  to  His  Intended 
Port  of  Call  543 

5:    Confrontations  and  Absolutions  in  Limbo  556 

6:  His  Future  at  Stake,  the  Poet  Reflects  on  a  Brace  of  Secular 
Mysteries  575 

7:    How  the  Ahatchwhoops  Doe  Choose  a  King  Over  Them        586 

8:    The  Fate  of  Father  Joseph  FitzMaurice,  S.J.,  Is  Further 
Illuminated,,  and  Itself  Illumines  Mysteries  More  Tenebrous  and 
Pregnant  600 

9:  At  Least  One  of  the  Pregnant  Mysteries  Is  Brought  to  Bed, 
With  Full  Measure  of  Travail,  but  Not  as  Yet  Delivered  to  the 
Light  611 

10 :  The  Englishing  of  Billy  Rumbly  Is  Related,  Purely  From 
Hearsay,  by  the  Traveling  Whore  o7  Dorset  622 

11 :  The  Tale  of  Billy  Rumbly  Is  Concluded  by  an  Eye-Witness 
to  His  Englishing.  Mary  Mungummory  Poses  the  Question,  Does 
Essential  Savagery  Lurk  Beneath  the  Skin  of  Civilization,  or 
Does  Essential  Civilization  Lurk  Beneath  the  Skin  of  Savagery? 
—but  Does  Not  Answer  It  638 

12:  The  Travelers  Having  Proceeded  Northward  to  Church 
Creek,  McEvoy  Out-Nobles  a  Nobleman,  and  the  Poet  Finds 
Himself  Knighted  Willy-Nilly  650 


13:  His  Majesty's  Provincial  Wind-  and  Water-Mill  Commis- 
sioners, With  Separate  Ends  in  View,  Have  Recourse  on  Separate 
Occasions  to  Allegory  659 

14:  Oblivion  Is  Attained  Twice  by  the  Miller's  Wife,  Once  by 
the  Miller  Himself,  and  Not  at  All  by  the  Poet,  Who  Likens  Life 
to  a  Shameless  Playwright  671 

15:  In  Pursuit  of  His  Manifold  Objectives  the  Poet  Meets  an 
Unsavaged  Savage  Husband  and  an  Unenglished  English  Wife  681 

16:  A  Sweeping  Generalization  Is  Proposed  Regarding  the 
Conservation  of  Cultural  Energy,  and  Demonstrated  With  the 
Aid  of  Rhetoric  and  Inadvertence  696 

17:  Having  Discovered  One  Unexpected  Relative  Already,,  the 
Poet  Hears  the  Tale  of  the  Invulnerable  Castle  and  Acquires 
Another  709 

18:  The  Poet  Wonders  Whether  the  Course  of  Human  History 
Is  a  Progress,  a  Drama,  a  Retrogression,  a  Cycle,  an  Undulation, 
a  Vortex,  a  Right-  or  Left-Handed  Spiral,  a  Mere  Continuum,  or 
What  Have  You.  Certain  Evidence  Is  Brought  Forward,  but  of  an 
Ambiguous  and  Inconclusive  Nature  725 

19:    The  Poet  Awakens  From  His  Dream  of  Hell  to  be  Judged  in 

Life  by  Rhadamanthus  744 

20:     The  Poet  Commences  His  Day  in  Court  760 

21:    The  Poet  Earns  His  Estate  774 


PART  IV:    THE  AUTHOR  APOLOGIZES  TO  HIS 

READERS;  THE  LAUREATE  COMPOSES  HIS  EPITAPH       791 


PART   I:      THE   MOMENTOUS  WAGER 


i:    THE  POET  IS  INTRODUCED,  AND 
DIFFERENTIATED  FROM  HIS  FELLOWS 


IN  THE  LAST  YEARS  OF  THE  SEVENTEENTH  CENTURY  THERE  WAS  TO  BE 

found  among  the  fops  and  fools  of  the  London  coffee-houses  one  rangy, 
gangling  flitch  called  Ebenezer  Cooke,  more  ambitious  than  talented,  and 
yet  more  talented  than  prudent,  who,  like  his  friends-in-folly,  all  of  whom 
were  supposed  to  be  educating  at  Oxford  or  Cambridge,  had  found  the 
sound  of  Mother  English  more  fun  to  game  with  than  her  sense  to  labor 
over,  and  so  rather  than  applying  himself  to  the  pains  of  scholarship,  had 
learned  the  knack  of  versifying,  and  ground  out  quires  of  couplets  after 
the  fashion  of  the  day,  afroth  with  Joves  and  Jupiters,  aclang  with  jarring 
rhymes,  and  string-taut  with  similes  stretched  to  the  snapping-point. 

As  poet,  this  Ebenezer  was  not  better  nor  worse  than  his  fellows,  none 
of  whom  left  behind  him  anything  nobler  than  his  own  posterity;  but  four 
things  marked  him  off  from  them.  The  first  was  his  appearance:  pale-haired 
and  pale-eyed,  raw-boned  and  gaunt-cheeked,  he  stood— nay,  angled— nine- 
teen hands  high.  His  clothes  were  good  stuff  well  tailored,  but  they  hung  on 
his  frame  like  luffed  sails  on  long  spars.  Heron  of  a  man,  lean-limbed  and 
long-billed,  he  walked  and  sat  with  loose-jointed  poise;  his  every  stance 
was  angular  surprise,  his  each  gesture  half  flail.  Moreover  there  was  a 
discomposure  about  his  face,  as  though  his  features  got  on  ill  together: 
heron's  beak,  wolf-hound's  forehead,  pointed  chin,  lantern  jaw,  wash-blue 
eyes,  and  bony  blond  brows  had  minds  of  their  own,  went  their  own  ways, 
and  took  up  odd  stances.  They  moved  each  independent  of  the  rest  and 
fell  into  new  configurations,  which  often  as  not  had  no  relation  to  what  one 
took  as  his  mood  of  the  moment.  And  these  configurations  were  shortlived, 
for  like  restless  mallards  the  features  of  his  face  no  sooner  were  settled  than 
ha!  they'd  be  flushed,  and  hi!  how  they'd  flutter,  every  man  for  himself, 
and  no  man  could  say  what  lay  behind  them. 

The  second  was  his  age:  whereas  most  of  his  accomplices  were  scarce 
turned  twenty,  Ebenezer  at  the  time  of  this  chapter  was  more  nearly 


[  i  A  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

thirty,  yet  not  a  whit  more  wise  than  they,  and  with  six  or  seven  years' 
less  excuse  for  sharing  their  folly. 

The  third  was  his  origin:  Ebenezer  was  born  American,  though  he'd  not 
seen  his  birthplace  since  earliest  childhood.  His  father,  Andrew  Cooke  2nd, 
of  the  Parish  of  St.  Giles  in  the  Fields,  County  of  Middlesex— a  red-faced, 
white-chopped,  stout-winded  old  lecher  with  flinty  eye  and  withered  arm 
—had  spent  his  youth  in  Maryland  as  agent  for  a  British  manufacturer,  as 
had  his  father  before  him,  and  having  a  sharp  eye  for  goods  and  a  sharper 
for  men,  had  added  to  the  Cooke  estate  by  the  time  he  was  thirty  some 
one  thousand  acres  of  good  wood  and  arable  land  on  the  Choptank  River. 
The  point  on  which  this  land  lay  he  called  Cooke's  Point,  and  the  small 
manor-house  he  built  there,  Maiden.  He  married  late  in  life  and  con- 
ceived twin  children,  Ebenezer  and  his  sister  Anna,  whose  mother  (as  if 
such  an  inordinate  casting  had  cracked  the  mold)  died  bearing  them. 
When  the  twins  were  but  four  Andrew  returned  to  England,  leaving  Maiden 
in  the  hands  of  an  overseer,  and  thenceforth  employed  himself  as  a 
merchant,  sending  his  own  factors  to  the  plantations.  His  affairs  prospered, 
and  the  children  were  well  provided  for. 

The  fourth  thing  that  distinguished  Ebenezer  from  his  coffee-house 
associates  was  his  manner:  though  not  one  of  them  was  blessed  with  more 
talent  than  he  needed,  all  of  Ebenezer's  friends  put  on  great  airs  when 
together,  declaiming  their  verses,  denigrating  all  the  well-known  poets  of 
their  time  (and  any  members  of  their  own  circle  who  happened  to  be  not 
not  on  hand),  boasting  of  their  amorous  conquests  and  their  prospects 
for  imminent  success,  and  otherwise  behaving  in  a  manner  such  that,  had 
not  every  other  table  in  the  coffee-house  sported  a  like  ring  of  cox- 
combs, they'd  have  made  great  nuisances  of  themselves.  But  Ebenezer 
himself,  though  his  appearance  rendered  inconspicuousness  out  of  the 
question,  was  bent  to  taciturnity  and  undemonstrativeness.  He  was 
even  chilly.  Except  for  infrequent  bursts  of  garrulity  he  rarely  joined  in 
the  talk,  but  seemed  content  for  the  most  part  simply  to  watch  the  other 
birds  preen  their  feathers.  Some  took  this  withdrawal  as  a  sign  of  his 
contempt,  and  so  were  either  intimidated  or  angered  by  it,  according  to 
the  degree  of  their  own  self-confidence.  Others  took  it  for  modesty;  others 
for  shyness;  others  for  artistic  or  philosophical  detachment.  Had  it  been  in 
fact  symptom  of  any  one  of  these,  there  would  be  no  tale  to  tell;  in  truth, 
however,  this  manner  of  our  poet's  grew  out  of  something  much  more 
complicated,  which  well  warrants  recounting  his  childhood,  his  adventures, 
and  his  ultimate  demise. 


2:    THE  REMARKABLE  MANNER  IN  WHICH 
EBENEZER  WAS  EDUCATED,  AND  THE  NO  LESS 
REMARKABLE  RESULTS  OF  THAT  EDUCATION 


EBENEZER  AND  ANNA  HAD  BEEN  RAISED  TOGETHER.  THERE  HAPPENING  TO 

be  no  other  children  on  the  estate  in  St.  Giles,  they  grew  up  with  no 
playmates  except  each  other,  and  hence  became  unusually  close.  They 
always  played  the  same  games  together  and  were  educated  in  the  same 
subjects,  since  Andrew  was  wealthy  enough  to  provide  them  with  a  tutor, 
but  not  with  separate  tutoring.  Until  the  age  of  ten  they  even  shared  the 
same  bedroom— not  that  space  was  lacking  either  in  Andrew's  London 
house,  on  Plumtree  Street,  or  in  the  later  establishment  at  St.  Giles,  but 
because  Andrew's  old  housekeeper,  Mrs.  Twigg,  who  was  for  some  years 
their  governess,  had  in  the  beginning  been  so  taken  with  the  fact  of  their 
twinship  that  she'd  made  a  point  of  keeping  them  together,  and  then 
later,  when  their  increased  size  and  presumed  awareness  began  to  embarrass 
her,  they- had  come  so  to  enjoy  each  other's  company  that  she  was  for  a 
time  unable  to  resist  their  combined  protests  at  any  mention  of  separate 
chambers.  When  the  separation  was  finally  effected,  at  Andrew's  orders, 
it  was  merely  to  adjoining  rooms,  between  which  the  door  was  normally 
left  open  to  allow  for  conversation. 

In  the  light  of  all  this  it  is  not  surprising  that  even  after  puberty  there  was 
little  difference,  aside  from  the  physical  manifestations  of  their  sex,  between 
the  two  children.  Both  were  lively,  intelligent,  and  well-behaved.  Anna  was 
the  less  timid  of  the  two  (though  neither  was  especially  adventuresome), 
and  even  when  Ebenezer  naturally  grew  to  be  the  taller  and  physically 
stronger,  Anna  was  still  the  quicker  and  better  coordinated,  and  therefore 
usually  the  winner  in  the  games  they  played:  shuttlecock,  fives,  or  ptilk 
maille;  squails,  Meg  Merrilies,  jackstraws,  or  shove  ha'penny.  Both  were 
avid  readers,  and  loved  the  same  books:  among  the  classics,  the  Odyssey 
and  Ovid's  Metamorphoses,  the  Boofe  of  Martyrs  and  the  Lives  of  the 
Saints;  the  romances  of  Valentine  and  Orson,  Bevis  of  Hampton,  and 
Guy  of  Warwick;  the  tales  of  Robin  Good-Fellow,  Patient  Grisel,  and  the 
Foundlings  in  the  Wood;  and  among  the  newer  books,  Janeway's  Token 
for  Children,  Batchiler's  Virgins  Pattern,  and  Fisher's  Wise  Virgin,  as  well 


[  l6  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

as  Cacoethes  Leaden  Legacy,  The  Young  Mans  Warning-Peece,  The  Booke 
of  Mery  Kiddles,  and,  shortly  after  their  publication,  Pilgrims  Progress 
and  Keach's  War  with  the  Devil.  Perhaps  had  Andrew  been  less  preoccupied 
with  his  merchant-trading,  or  Mrs.  Twigg  with  her  religion,  her  gout, 
and  her  authority  over  the  other  servants,  Anna  would  have  been  kept  to 
her  dolls  and  embroidery-hoops,  and  Ebenezer  set  to  mastering  the  arts 
of  hunting  and  fencing.  But  they  were  seldom  subjected  to  any  direction 
at  all,  and  hence  drew  small  distinction  between  activities  proper  for  little 
girls  and  those  proper  for  little  boys. 

Their  favorite  recreation  was  play-acting.  Indoors  or  out,  hour  after  hour, 
they  played  at  pirates,  soldiers,  clerics,  Indians,  royalty,  giants,  martyrs,  lords 
and  ladies,  or  any  other  creatures  that  took  their  fancy,  inventing  action 
and  dialogue  as  they  played.  Sometimes  they  would  maintain  the  same  role 
for  days,  sometimes  only  for  minutes.  Ebenezer,  especially,  became  ingen- 
ious at  disguising  his  assumed  identity  in  the  presence  of  adults,  while  still 
revealing  it  clearly  enough  to  Anna,  to  her  great  delight,  by  some 
apparently  innocent  gesture  or  remark.  They  might  spend  an  autumn 
morning  playing  at  Adam  and  Eve  out  in  the  orchard,  for  example, 
and  when  at  dinner  their  father  forbade  them  to  return  there,  on  account 
of  the  mud,  Ebenezer  would  reply  with  a  knowing  nod,  "Mud's  not  the 
worst  oft:  I  saw  a  snake  as  well."  And  little  Anna,,  when  she  ha8  got  her 
breath  back,  would  declare,  "It  didn't  frighten  me,  but  Eben's  forehead 
hath  been  sweating  ever  since,"  and  pass  her  brother  the  bread.  At  night, 
both  before  and  after  their  separation  into  two  rooms,  they  would  either 
continue  to  make-believe  (necessarily  confining  themselves  to  dialogue,, 
which  they  found  it  easy  to  carry  on  in  the  dark)  or  else  play  word-games;  of 
these  they  had  a  great  variety,  ranging  from  the  simple  "How  many  words  do 
you  know  beginning  with  S?"  or  "How  many  words  rhyme  with  faster?"  to 
the  elaborate  codes,  reverse  pronunciations,  and  home-made  languages  of 
their  later  childhood,  which,  when  spoken  in  Andrew's  presence,  set  him 
into  a  thundering  rage. 

In  1676,  when  they  were  ten,  Andrew  employed  for  them  a  new  tutor 
named  Henry  Burlingame  III— a  wiry,  brown-eyed,  swarthy  youth  in  his 
early  twenties,  energetic,  intense,  and  not  at  all  unhandsome.  This 
Burlingame  had  for  reasons  unexplained  not  completed  his  baccalaureate; 
yet  for  the  range  and  depth  of  his  erudition  and  abilities  he  was  little  short 
of  an  Aristotle.  Andrew  had  found  him  in  London  unemployed  and  un- 
dernourished, and,  always  a  good  businessman,  was  thus  for  a  miserly  fee 
able  to  provide  his  children  with  a  tutor  who  could  sing  the  tenor  in  a 


THE   SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  IJ  ] 

Gesualdo  madrigal  as  easily  as  he  dissected  a  field-mouse  or  conjugated  dp.L 
The  twins  took  an  immediate  liking  to  him,  and  he  in  turn,  after  only  a 
few  weeks,  grew  so  attached  to  them  that  he  was  overjoyed  when  Andrew 
permitted  him,  at  no  increase  in  salary,  to  convert  the  little  summer-pavilion 
on  the  grounds  of  the  St.  Giles  estate  into  a  combination  laboratory  and 
living-quarters,  and  devote  his  entire  attention  to  his  charges. 

He  found  both  to  be  rapid  learners,  especially  apt  in  natural  philosophy, 
literature,  composition,  and  music;  less  so  in  languages,  mathematics,  and 
history.  He  even  taught  them  how  to  dance,  though  Ebenezer  by  age 
twelve  was  already  too  ungainly  to  do  it  well  and  took  small  pleasure  in 
it.  First  he  would  teach  Ebenezer  to  play  the  melody  on  the  harpsichord; 
then  he  would  drill  Anna  in  the  steps,  to  Ebenezer's  accompaniment, 
until  she  mastered  them;  next  he  would  take  Ebenezer's  place  at  the 
instrument  so  that  Anna  could  teach  her  brother  the  steps;  and  finally, 
when  the  dance  was  learned,  Ebenezer  would  help  Anna  master  the  tune  on 
the  harpsichord.  Aside  from  its  obvious  efficiency,  this  system  was  in  keeping 
with  the  second  of  Master  Burlingame's  three  principles  of  pedagogy;  to 
wit,  that  one  learns  a  thing  best  by  teaching  it.  The  first  was  that  of  the  three 
usual  motives  for  learning  things— necessity,  ambition,  and  curiosity — 
simple  curiosity  was  the  worthiest  of  development,  it  being  the  "purest" 
(in  that  the  value  of  what  it  drives  us  to  learn  is  terminal  rather  than 
instrumental) ,  the  most  conducive  to  exhaustive  and  continuing  rather  than 
cursory  or  limited  study,  and  the  likeliest  to  render  pleasant  the  labor  of 
learning.  The  third  principle,  closely  related  to  the  others,  was  that  this 
sport  of  teaching  and  learning  should  never  become  associated  with 
certain  hours  or  particular  places,  lest  student  and  teacher  alike  (and  in 
Burlingame's  system  they  were  very  much  alike)  fall  into  the  vulgar  habit 
of  turning  off  their  alertness,,  as  it  were,  except  at  those  times  and  in  those 
places,  and  thus  make  by  implication  a  pernicious  distinction  between 
learning  and  other  sorts  of  natural  human  behavior. 

The  twins'  education,  then,  went  on  from  morning  till  night.  Burlin- 
game  joined  readily  in  their  play-acting,  and  had  he  dared  ask  leave  would 
have  slept  with  them  as  well,  to  guide  their  word-games.  If  his  system 
lacked  the  discipline  of  John  Locke's,  who  would  have  all  students  soak 
their  feet  in  cold  water,  it  was  a  good  deal  more  fun:  Ebenezer  and  Anna 
loved  their  teacher,  and  the  three  were  inseparable  companions.  To 
teach  them  history  he  directed  their  play-acting  to  historical  events: 
Ebenezer  would  be  Little  John,  perhaps,  and  Anna  Friar  Tuck,  or  Anna 
St.  Ursula  and  Ebenezer  the  Fifty  Thousand  Virgins;  to  sustain  their 


[  l8  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

interest  in  geography  he  produced  volumes  of  exotic  pictures  and  tales  of 
adventure;  to  sharpen  their  logical  equipment  he  ran  them  through  Zeno's 
paradoxes  as  one  would  ask  riddles,  and  rehearsed  them  in  Descartes's 
skepticism  as  gaily  as  though  the  search  for  truth  and  value  in  the  universe 
were  a  game  of  Who's  Got  the  Button.  He  taught  them  to  wonder  at 
a  leaf  of  thyme,  a  line  of  Palestrina,  the  configuration  of  Cassiopeia,  the 
scales  of  a  pilchard,  the  sound  of  indefatigable,  the  elegance  of  a  sorites. 

The  result  of  this  education  was  that  the  twins  grew  quite  enamored  of 
the  world— especially  Ebenezer,  for  Anna,  from  about  her  thirteenth 
birthday,  began  to  grow  more  demure  and  less  demonstrative.  But  Ebenezer 
could  be  moved  to  shivers  by  the  swoop  of  a  barn-swallow,  to  cries  of 
laughter  at  the  lace  of  a  cobweb  or  the  roar  of  an  organ's  pedal-notes,  and 
to  sudden  tears  by  the  wit  of  Volpone,  the  tension  of  a  violin-box,  or 
the  truth  of  the  Pythagorean  Theorem.  By  age  eighteen  he  had  reached 
his  full  height  and  ungainliness;  he  was  a  nervous,  clumsy  youth  who,  though 
by  this  time  he  far  excelled  his  sister  in  imaginativeness,  was  much  her 
inferior  in  physical  beauty,  for  though  as  twins  they  shared  nearly  identical 
features,  Nature  saw  fit,  by  subtle  alterations,  to  turn  Anna  into  a  lovely 
young  woman  and  Ebenezer  into  a  goggling  scarecrow,  just  as  a  clever 
author  may,  by  the  most  delicate  adjustments,  make  a  ridiculous  parody  of 
a  beautiful  style. 

It  is  a  pity  that  Burlingame  could  not  accompany  Ebenezer  when,  at 
eighteen,  the  boy  made  ready  to  matriculate  at  Cambridge,  for  though  a 
good  teacher  will  teach  well  regardless  of  the  pedagogical  theory  he  suffers 
from,  and  though  Burlingame's  might  seem  to  have  been  an  unusually 
attractive  one,  yet  there  is  no  perfect  educational  system,  and  it  must  be 
admitted  that  at  least  partly  because  of  his  tutoring  Ebenezer  took  quite 
the  same  sort  of  pleasure  in  history  as  in  Greek  mythology  and  epic  poetry, 
and  made  little  or  no  distinction  between,  say,  the  geography  of  the  atlases 
and  that  of  fairy-stories.  In  short,  because  learning  had  been  for  him  such 
a  pleasant  game,  he  could  not  regard  the  facts  of  zoology  or  the  Norman 
Conquest,  for  example,  with  any  genuine  seriousness^  nor  could  he  dis- 
cipline himself  to  long  labor  at  tedious  tasks.  Even  his  great  imagination 
and  enthusiasm  for  the  world  were  not  unalloyed  virtues  when  combined 
with  his  gay  irresolution,  for  though  they  led  him  to  a  great  sense  of  the 
arbitrariness  of  the  particular  real  world,  they  did  not  endow  him  with  a 
corresponding  realization  of  its  finality.  He  very  well  knew,  for  instance, 
that  "France  is  shaped  like  a  teapot,"  but  he  could  scarcely  accept  the 
fact  that  there  was  actually  in  existence  at  that  instant  such  a  place 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [19] 

as  France,  where  people  were  speaking  French  and  eating  snails  whether 
he  thought  about  them  or  not,  and  that  despite  the  virtual  infinitude 
of  imaginable  shapes,  this  France  would  have  to  go  on  resembling  a 
teapot  forever.  And  again,  though  the  whole  business  of  Greece  and  Rome 
was  unquestionably  delightful,  he  found  the  notion  preposterous,  almost 
unthinkable,  that  this  was  the  only  way  it  happened:  that  made  him 
nervous  and  irritable,  when  he  thought  of  it  at  all. 

Perhaps  with  continued  guidance  from  his  tutor  he  could  in  time  have 
overcome  these  failings,  but  one  morning  in  July  of  1684  Andrew  simply 
announced  at  breakfast,  "No  need  to  go  to  the  summer-house  today, 
Ebenezer.  Thy  lessons  are  done/' 

Both  children  looked  up  in  surprise. 

"Do  you  mean,  sir,  that  Henry  will  be  leaving  us?"  Ebenezer  asked. 

"I  do  indeed,"  Andrew  replied.  "In  fact,  if  I  be  not  greatly  in  error  he 
hath  already  departed." 

"But  how  is  that?  With  never  a  fare-thee-well?  He  spoke  not  a  word  of 
leaving  us!" 

"Gently,  now,"  said  Andrew.  "Will  ye  weep  for  a  mere  schoolmaster? 
'Twas  this  week  or  the  next,  was't  not?  Thou'rt  done  with  him." 

"Did  you  know  aught  oft?"  Ebenezer  demanded  of  Anna.  She  shook 
her  head  and  fled  from  the  room.  "You  ordered  him  off,  Father?"  he  asked 
incredulously.  "Why  such  suddenness?" 

"  'Dslife!"  cried  Andrew.  "At  your  age  I'd  sooner  have  drunk  him  good 
riddance  than  raised  such  a  bother!  The  fellow's  work  was  done  and  I 
sacked  him,  and  there's  an  end  on't!  If  he  saw  fit  to  leave  at  once  'tis  his 
affair.  I  must  say  'twas  a  more  manly  thing  than  all  this  hue  and  cry!" 

Ebenezer  went  at  once  to  the  summer-pavilion.  Almost  everything  was 
there  exactly  as  it  had  been  before:  a  half-dissected  frog  lay  pinned  out 
upon  its  beech-board  on  the  work-table;  books  and  papers  were  spread  open 
on  the  writing-desk;  even  the  teapot  stood  half-full  on  the  grate.  But 
Burlingame  was  indeed  gone.  While  Ebenezer  was  looking  about  in 
disbelief  Anna  joined  him,  wiping  her  eyes. 

"Dear  Henry!"  Ebenezer  lamented,  his  own  eyes  brimming.  "  'Tis  like  a 
bolt  from  Heaven!  Whatever  shall  we  do  without  him?" 

Anna  made  no  reply,  but  ran  to  her  brother  and  embraced  him. 

For  this  reason  or  another,  then,  when  not  long  afterwards  Ebenezer 
bade  good-bye  to  his  father  and  Anna  and  established  himself  in  Magdalene 
College,  at  Cambridge,  he  proved  a  poor  student.  He  would  go  to  fetch 
Newton's  lectures  De  Motu  Corporum  from  the  library,  and  would 


[20]  THE   SOT-WEED   FACTOR 

spend  four  hours  reading  Esquemeling's  History  of  the  Buccaneers  instead, 
or  some  Latin  bestiary.  He  took  part  in  few  pranks  or  sports,  made  few 
friends,  and  went  virtually  unnoticed  by  his  professors. 

It  was  during  his  second  year  of  study  that,,  though  he  did  not  realize 
it  at  the  time,  he  was  sore  bit  by  the  muse's  gadfly.  Certainly  he  did  not 
at  the  time  think  of  himself  as  a  poet,  but  it  got  so  that  after  hearing  his 
teachers  argue  subtly  and  at  length  against,  say,  philosophical  materialism, 
he  would  leave  the  lecture-hall  with  no  more  in  his  notebook  than: 

Old  Plato  sow  both  Mind  and  Matter; 
Thomas  Hobbes,  naught  but  the  latter. 
Now  poor  Tom's  Soul  doth  fry  in  Hell: 
Shrugs  GOD, "  Tis  immaterial:' 

or: 

Source  of  Virtue,  Truth,  and  All  is 
Each  Man's  Lumen  Naturalis. 

As  might  be  expected,  the  more  this  divine  affliction  got  hold  of  him, 
the  more  his  studies  suffered.  The  sum  of  history  became  in  his  head  no 
more  than  the  stuff  of  metaphors.  Of  the  philosophers  of  his  era— Bacon, 
Hobbes,  Descartes,  Spinoza,  Leibnitz,  Locke— he  learned  little;  of  its 
scientists— Kepler,  Galileo,  Newton— less;  of  its  theologians— Lord  Her- 
bert, Cudworth,  More,  Smith,  Glanvill— nothing.  But  Paradise  Lost  he 
knew  inside  out;  Hudibras  upside  down.  At  the  end  of  the  third  year,  to  his 
great  distress,  he  failed  a  number  of  examinations  and  had  to  face  the 
prospect  of  leaving  the  University.  Yet  what  to  do?  He  could  not  bear  the 
thought  of  returning  to  St.  Giles  and  telling  his  f ormidable  father,  he  would 
have  to  absent  himself  quietly,  disappear  from  sight,  and  seek  his  fortune 
in  the  world  at  large.  But  in  what  manner? 

Here,  in  his  difficulty  with  this  question,  the  profoundest  effects  of 
Burlingame's  amiable  pedagogy  become  discernible:  Ebenezefs  imagina- 
tion was  excited  by  every  person  he  met  either  in  or  out  of  books  who  could 
do  with  skill  and  understanding  anything  whatever;  he  was  moved  to  ready 
admiration  by  expert  falconers,  scholars,  masons,  chimneysweeps,  pros- 
titutes, admirals,  cutpurses,  sailmakers,  barmaids,  apothecaries,  and  can- 
noneers alike. 

Aft,  God,  he  wrote  in  a  letter  to  Anna  about  this  time,  it  were  an  easy 
Matter  to  choose  a  Calling,  had  one  all  Time  to  live  in!  I  should  be  fifty 
Years  a  Barrister,  fifty  a  Physician,  fifty  a  Clergyman,  -fifty  a  Soldier!  Aye, 
and  fifty  a  Thief,  and  fifty  a  Judge!  All  Roads  are  fine  Roads,  beloved 
Sister,  none  more  than  another,  so  that  with  one  Life  to  spend  lama  Man 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  21  ] 

bare-bumrrid  at  Taylors  with  Cash  for  but  one  pair  of  Breeches,  or  a 
Scholar  at  Bookstalls  with  Money  for  a  single  Book:  to  choose  ten  were  no 
Trouble;  to  choose  one,  impossible!  All  Trades,  all  Crafts,  all  Professions  are 
wondrous,  but  none  is  finer  than  the  rest  together.  I  cannot  choose,  sweet 
Anna:  twixt  Stools  my  Breech  falleth  to  the  Ground! 

He  was,  that  is  to  say,  temperamentally  disinclined  to  no  career,  and, 
what  is  worse  (as  were  this  not  predicament  enough ) ,  he  seemed  consistently 
no  special  sort  of  person:  the  variety  of  temperaments  and  characters  that 
he  observed  at  Cambridge  and  in  literature  was  as  enchanting  to  him  as  the 
variety  of  life-works,  and  as  hard  to  choose  from  among.  He  admired 
equally  the  sanguine,  the  phlegmatic,  the  choleric,  the  melancholic,  the 
splenetic,  and  the  balanced  man,  the  fool  and  the  sage,  the  enthusiast  and 
the  stick-in-the-mud,  the  talkative  and  the  taciturn,  and,  most  dilemmal  of 
all,  the  consistent  and  the  inconsistent.  Similarly,  it  seemed  to  him  as  fine 
a  thing  to  be  fat  as  to  be  lean,  to  be  short  as  tall,  homely  as  handsome. 
To  complete  his  quandary— what  is  probably  an  effect  of  the  foregoing— 
Ebenezer  could  be  persuaded,  at  least  notionally,  by  any  philosophy  of  the 
world,  even  by  any  strongly  held  opinion,  which  was  either  poetically 
conceived  or  attractively  stated,,  since  he  appeared  to  be  emotionally 
predisposed  in  favor  of  none.  It  was  as  pretty  a  notion  to  him  that  the 
world  was  made  of  water,  as  Thales  declared,  as  that  it  was  air,  i  la 
Anaximines,  or  fire,  &  la  Heraclitus,  or  all  three  and  dirt  to  boot,  as  swore 
Empedocles;  that  all  was  matter,  as  Hobbes  maintained,  or  that  all  was 
mind,  as  some  of  Locke's  followers  were  avowing,  seemed  equally  likely  to 
our  poet,  and  as  for  ethics,  could  he  have  been  all  three  and  not  just  one 
he'd  have  enjoyed  dying  once  a  saint,  once  a  frightful  sinner,  and  once 
lukewarm  between  the  two. 

The  man  (in  short),  thanks  both  to  Burlingame  and  to  his  natural  pro- 
clivities, was  dizzy  with  the  beauty  of  the  possible;  dazzled,  he  threw  up 
his  hands  at  choice,  and  like  ungainly  flotsam  rode  half-content  the  tide  of 
chance.  Though  the  term  was  done  he  stayed  on  at  Cambridge.  For  a  week 
he  simply  languished  in  his  rooms,  reading  distractedly  and  smoking  pipe 
after  pipe  of  tobacco,  to  which  he'd  become  addicted.  At  length  reading 
became  impossible;  smoking  too  great  a  bother:  he  prowled  restlessly  about 
the  room.  His  head  always  felt  about  to  ache,  but  never  began  to. 

Finally  one  day  he  did  not  deign  even  to  dress  himself  or  eat,  but  sat 
immobile  in  the  window  seat  in  his  nightshirt  and  stared  at  the  activity  in 
the  street  below,  unable  to  choose  a  motion  at  all  even  when,  some  hours 
later,  his  untutored  bladder  suggested  one. 


<*§   ?:    EBENEZER  IS  RESCUED,  AND  HEARS  A  DIVERTING 
TALE  INVOLVING  ISAAC  NEWTON  AND  OTHER 
NOTABLES 


LUCKILY  FOR  HIM  (ELSE  HE  MIGHT  HAVE  MOSSED  OVER  WHERE  HE  SAl), 

Ebenezer  was  roused  from  his  remarkable  trance  shortly  after  dinnertime 
by  a  sudden  great  commotion  at  his  door. 

"Eben!  Eben!  Prithee  admit  me  quicldy!" 

"Who  is  it?"  called  Ebenezer,  and  jumped  up  in  alarm:  he  had  no  friends 
at  the  College  who  might  be  calling  on  him, 

"Open  and  see,"  the  visitor  laughed.  "Only  hurry,  I  beg  of  thee!" 

"Do  but  wait  a  minute.  I  must  dress." 

"What?  Not  dressed?  'Swounds,  what  an  idle  fellow!  No  matter,  boy; 
let  me  in  at  once!" 

Ebenezer  recognized  the  voice,  which  he'd  not  heard  for  three  years. 
"Henry!"  he  cried,  and  threw  open  the  door. 

"Tis  no  other,"  laughed  Burlingame,  giving  him  a  squeeze.  "Marry, 
what  a  lout  thou'rt  grown  to!  A  good  six  feet!  And  abed  at  this  hour!"  He 
felt  the  young  man's  forehead.  "Yet  you've  no  fever.  What  ails  thee,  lad? 

Ah  well,  no  matter.  One  moment "  He  ran  to  the  window  and  peered 

cautiously  below.  "Ah,  there's  the  rascal!  Hither,  Eben!" 

Ebenezer  hurried  to  the  window.  "Whatever  is't?" 

"Yonder,  yonder!"  Burlingame  pointed  up  the  street.  "Coming  by  the 
little  dram-shop!  Know  you  that  gentleman  with  the  hickory-stick?" 

Ebenezer  saw  a  long-faced  man  of  middle  age,  gowned  as  a  don,  making 
his  way  down  the  street. 

"Nay,  'tis  no  Magdalene  Fellow.  The  face  is  strange/' 

"Shame  on  thee,  then,  and  mark  it  well.  'Tis  Isa^c  himself,  from 
Trinity." 

"Newton!"  Ebenezer  looked  with  sharper  interest.  "I've  not  seen  him 
before,  but  word  hath  it  the  Royal  Society  is  bringing  out  a  book  of  his 
within  the  month  that  will  explain  the  workings  of  the  entire  universe! 
Ffaith,  I  thank  you  for  your  haste!  But  did  I  hear  you  call  him  rased?" 

Burlingame  laughed  again,  "You  mistake  the  reason  for  my  haste,  Eben. 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [23] 

I  pray  God  my  face  hath  altered  these  fifteen  years,  for  I'm  certain  Brother 
Isaac  caught  sight  of  me  ere  I  reached  your  entryway." 

"Is7t  possible  you  know  him?"  asked  Ebenezer,  much  impressed. 

"Know  him?  I  was  once  near  raped  by  him.  Stay!"  He  drew  back  from 
the  window.  "Keep  an  eye  on  him,  and  tell  me  how  I  might  escape  should 
he  turn  in  at  your  door." 

"No  difficulty:  the  door  of  this  chamber  lets  onto  an  open  stairway  in 
the  rear.  What  in  Heav'n's  afoot,  Henry?" 

"Don't  be  alarmed/'  Burlingame  said.  "  Tis  a  pretty  story,  and  I'll  tell 
it  all  presently.  Is  he  coming?" 

"One  moment— he's  just  across  from  us.  There.  Nay,  wait  now— he  is 
saluting  another  don.  Old  Bagley,  the  Latinist.  There,  now,  he's  moving  on." 

Burlingame  came  to  the  window,  and  the  two  of  them  watched  the  great 
man  continue  up  the  street. 

"Not  another  moment,  Henry,"  Ebenezer  declared.  "Tell  me  at  once 
what  mystery  is  behind  this  hide-and-seek,  and  behind  thy  cruel  haste  to 
leave  us  three  years  past,  or  watch  me  perish  of  curiosity!" 

"Aye  and  I  shall,"  Burlingame  replied,  "directly  you  dress  yourself,  lead 
us  to  food  and  drink,  and  give  full  account  of  yourself.  'Tis  not  I  alone 
who  have  excuses  to  find." 

"How!  Then  you  know  of  my  failure?" 

"Aye,  and  came  to  see  what's  what,  and  perchance  to  birch  some  sense 
into  you." 

"But  how  can  that  be?  I  told  none  but  Anna." 

"Stay,  you'll  hear  all,  I  swear't.  But  not  a  word  till  I've  a  spread  of 
sack  and  mutton.  Let  not  excitement  twist  thy  values,  lad— come  on  with 
you!" 

"Ah,  bless  you,  thou'rt  an  Iliad  Greek,  Henry,"  Ebenezer  said,  and 
commenced  dressing. 

They  went  to  an  inn  nearby,  where  over  small  beer  after  dinner 
Ebenezer  explained,  as  best  he  could,  his  failure  at  the  College  and 
subsequent  indecisions.  "The  heart  oft  seems  to  be,"  he  concluded,  "that 
in  no  matter  of  import  can  I  make  up  by  mind.  The  moment  I  grow  sensible 
that  I  must  choose,  I  see  such  virtues  in  each  alternative  that  none  outshines 
the  rest.  Marry,  Henry,  how  I've  needed  thy  counsell  What  agonies  you 
might  have  saved  me!" 

"Nay,"  Burlingame  protested.  "You  well  know  I  love  you,  Eben,  and 
feel  your  afflictions  as  my  own.  But  advice,  I  swear't,  is  the  wrong  medicine 
for  your  malady,  for  two  reasons:  first,  the  logic  of  the  problem  is  such 


[24]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

that  at  some  remove  or  other  you'd  have  still  to  choose,  inasmuch  as  should 
I  counsel  you  to  come  with  me  to  London,  you  yet  must  choose  whether  to 
follow  my  counsel;  and  should  I  farther  counsel  you  to  follow  my  first 
counsel,  you  must  yet  choose  to  follow  my  second— the  regress  is  infinite 
and  goes  nowhere.  Second,  e'en  could  you  choose  to  follow  my  counsel, 
'tis  no  cure  at  all,  but  a  mere  crutch  to  lean  upon.  The  object  is  to  put  you 
on  your  feet,  not  to  take  you  off  them.  Tis  a  serious  affair,  Eben;  it  troubles 
me.  What  are  your  own  sentiments  about  your  failure?" 

"I  must  own  I  have  none/'  Ebenezer  said,  "though  I  can  fancy  many/' 

"And  this  indecision:  how  do  you  feel  about  yourself?" 

"Marry,  I  know  not!  I  suppose  I'm  merely  curious." 

Burlingame  frowned  and  called  for  a  pipe  of  tobacco  from  a  wine- 
drawer  working  near  at  hand.  "You  were  indeed  the  picture  of  apathy 
when  I  found  you.  Doth  it  not  gall  or  grieve  you  to  lose  the  baccalaureate, 
when  you'd  approached  so  near  it?" 

"In  a  manner,  I  suppose,"  Ebenezer  smiled.  "And  yet  the  man  I  most 
respect  hath  got  on  without  it,  hath  he  not?" 

Burlingame  laughed.  "My  dear  fellow,  I  see  'tis  time  I  told  you  many 
things.  Will  it  comfort  you  to  learn  that  I,  too,  suffer  from  your  disease,  and 
have  since  childhood?" 

"Nay,  that  cannot  be,"  Ebenezer  said.  "Ne'er  have  I  seen  thee  falter, 
Henry:  thou'rt  the  very  antithesis  of  indecision!  Tis  to  you  I  look  in  envy, 
and  despair  of  e'er  attaining  such  assurance." 

"Let  me  be  your  hope,  not  your  despair,  for  just  as  a  mild  siege  of 
smallpox,  though  it  scar  a  man's  face,  leaves  him  safe  forever  from  dying  of 
that  ailment,  so  inconstancy,  fickleness,  a  periodic  shifting  of  enthusiasms, 
though  a  vice,  may  preserve  a  man  from  crippling  indecision." 

"Fickleness,  Henry?"  Ebenezer  asked  in  wonderment.  "Is't  fickleness 
explains  your  leaving  us?" 

"Not  in  the  sense  you  take  it,"  Burlingame  said.  He  fetched  out  a  shilling 
and  called  for  two  more  tankards  of  beer.  "I  say,  did  you  know  I  was  an 
orphan  child?" 

"Why,  yes,"  Ebenezer  said,  surprised.  "Now  you  mention  it,  I  believe  I 

did  though  I  can't  recall  your  ever  telling  us.  Haply  we  just  assumed  it. 

taith  Henry,  all  the  years  we've  known  you,  and  yet  in  sooth  we  know 

naught  of  you,  do  we?  I've  no  idea  when  you  were  bom,  or  where  reared, 

or  by  whom." 

"Or  why  I  left  ycm  «,  discourteously,  or  how  I  learned  of  your 
failure,  or  why  I  fled  the  great  Mister  Newton,"  Burlingame  added.  "Very 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

well  then,  take  a  draught  with  me,  and  I  shall  uncloak  the  mystery-  There's 
a  good  fellow!" 

They  drank  deeply,  and  Burlingame  began  his  story. 

"I've  not  the  faintest  notion  where  I  was  born,  or  even  when— though  it 
must  have  been  about  1654.  Much  less  do  I  know  what  woman  bore  me, 
or  what  man  got  me  on  her.  I  was  raised  by  a  Bristol  sea-captain  and  his 
wife,  who  were  childless,  and  'tis  my  suspicion  I  was  born  in  either  America 
or  the  West  Indies,  for  my  earliest  memories  are  of  an  ocean  passage  when 
I  was  no  more  than  three  years  old.  Their  name  was  Salmon— Avery  and 
Melissa  Salmon." 

"I  am  astonished!"  Ebenezer  declared.  "I  ne'er  dreamed  aught  so 
extraordinary  of  your  beginnings!  How  came  you  to  be  called  Burlingame, 
then?" 

Burlingame  sighed.  "Ah,  Eben,  just  as  till  now  you've  been  incurious 
about  my  origin,  so  till  too  late  was  I.  Burlingame  I've  been  since  earliest 
memory,  and,  as  is  the  way  of  children,  it  ne'er  occurred  to  me  to  wonder  at 
it,  albeit  to  this  day  I've  met  no  other  of  that  surname." 

"It  must  be  that  whomever  Captain  Salmon  received  you  from  was  your 
parent!"  Ebenezer  said.  "Or  haply  'twas  some  kin  of  yours,  that  knew  your 
name." 

"Dear  Eben,  think  you  I've  not  racked  myself  upon  that  chance?  Think 
you  I'd  not  forfeit  a  hand  for  five  minutes'  converse  with  my  poor 
Captain,  or  gentle  Melissa?  But  I  must  put  by  my  curiosity  till  Judgment 
Day,  for  they  both  are  in  their  graves." 

"Unlucky  fellow!" 

"All  through  my  childhood,"  Burlingame  went  on,  "  'twas  my  single  aim 
to  go  to  sea,  like  Captain  Salmon.  Boats  were  my  only  toys;  sailors  my  only 
playmates.  On  my  thirteenth  birthday  I  shipped  as  messboy  on  the 
Captain's  vessel,  a  West  Indiaman,  and  so  taken  was  I  by  the  mariner's  life 
that  I  threw  my  heart  and  soul  into  my  apprenticeship.  Ere  we  raised 
Barbados  I  was  scrambling  aloft  with  the  best  of  'em,  to  take  in  a  stuns'l  or 
tar  the  standing  rigging,  and  was  as  handy  with  a  fid  as  any  Jack  aboard. 
Eben,  Eben,  what  a  life  for  a  lad— e'en  now  it  shivers  me  to  think  on't! 
Brown  as  a  coffee-bean  I  was,  and  agile  as  a  monkey,  and  ere  my  voice  had 
left  off  changing,  ere  my  parts  were  fully  haired— at  an  age  when  most  boys 
have  still  the  smell  of  the  womb  on  'em,  and  dream  of  traveling  to  the 
neighboring  shire— I  had  dived  for  sheepswool  sponges  on  the  Great 
Bahaman  Banks  and  fought  with  pirates  in  the  Gulf  of  Paria.  What's  more, 
after  guarding  my  innocence  in  the  fo'c'sle  with  a  fishknife  from  a  lecherous 


[26]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

old  Manxman  who'd  offered  two  pounds  for't,  I  swam  a  mile  through 
shark-water  from  our  mooring  off  Curasao  to  squander  it  one  August  night 
with  a  mulatto  girl  upon  the  beach.  She  was  scarce  thirteen,  Eben— half 
Dutch,  half  Indian,  lissome  and  trembly  as  an  eight-month  colt— but  on 
receipt  of  a  little  brass  spyglass  of  mine,  which  she'd  taken  a  great  'fancy 
to  in  the  village  that  morning,  she  fetched  up  her  skirts  with  a  laugh,  and 
I  deflowered  her  under  the  sour-orange  trees.  I  was  not  yet  fifteen." 

"Gramercy!" 

"No  man  e'er  loved  his  trade  more  than  I,"  Burlingame  continued,  "nor 
slaved  at  it  more  diligently;  I  was  the  apple  of  the  Captain's  eye,  and  would, 
I  think,,  have  risen  fast  through  the  ranks." 

"Then  out  on't,  Henry,  how  is't  you  claim  my  failing?  For  I  see  naught 
in  thy  tale  here  but  a  staggering  industry  and  singlemindedness,  the  half  of 
which  Fd  lose  an  ear  to  equal." 

Burlingame  smiled  and  drank  off  the  last  of  his  beer.  "Inconstancy,  dear 
fellow,  inconstancy.  That  same  singlemindedness  that  raised  me  o'er  the 
other  lads  on  the  ship  was  the  ruin  of  my  nautical  career." 

"How  can  that  be?" 

"I  made  five  voyages  in  all,"  Burlingame  said.  "On  the  fifth— the  same 
voyage  on  which  I  lost  my  virginity— we  lay  becalmed  one  day  in  the  horse 
latitudes  off  the  Canary  Islands,  and  quite  by  chance,  looking  about  for 
something  wherewith  to  occupy  myself,  I  happened  on  a  copy  of  Motteux's 
Don  Quixote  among  a  shipmate's  effects;  I  spent  the  remainder  of  the 
day  with  it,  for  though  Mother  Salmon  had  taught  me  to  read  and  write, 
'twas  the  first  real  storybook  I'd  read.  I  grew  so  entranced  by  the  great 
Manchegan  and  his  faithful  squire  as  to  lose  all  track  of  time  and  was 
rebuked  by  Captain  Salmon  for  reporting  late  to  the  cook. 

"From  that  day  on  I  was  no  longer  a  seaman,  but  a  student.  I  read  every 
book  I  could  find  aboard  ship  and  in  port— bartered  my  clothes,  mortgaged 
my  pay  for  books,  on  any  subject  whatever,  and  reread  them  over  and  over 
when  no  new  ones  could  be  found.  All  else  went  by  the  board;  what  work  I 
could  be  made  to  do  I  did  distractedly,  and  in  careless  haste.  I  took  to 
hiding,  in  the  rope-locker  or  the  lazarette,  where  I  could  read  for  an  hour 
undisturbed  ere  I  was  found.  Finally  Captain  Salmon  could  tolerate  it  no 
more:  he  ordered  the  mate  to  confiscate  every  volume  aboard,  save  only 
the  charts,  the  ship's  log,  and  the  navigational  tables,  and  pitched  'em  to 
the  sharks  off  Port-au-Prince;  then  he  gave  me  such  a  hiding  for  my  sins 
that  my  poor  bum  tingled  a  fortnight  after,  and  forbade  me  e'er  to  read  a 
printed  page  aboard  his  vessel.  This  so  thwarted  and  aggrieved  me,  that  at 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  2J  ] 

the  next  port  (which  happened  to  be  Liverpool)  I  jumped  ship  and  left 
career  and  benefactor  forever,  with  not  a  thank-ye  nor  a  fare-thee-well  for 
the  people  who'd  fed  and  clothed  me  since  babyhood. 

"I  had  no  money  at  all,  and  for  food  only  a  great  piece  of  hard  cheese  I'd 
stolen  from  the  ship's  cook:  therefore  I  very  soon  commenced  to  starve. 
I  took  to  standing  on  streetcorners  and  singing  for  my  supper:  I  was  a  pretty 
lad  and  knew  many  a  song,  and  when  I  would  sing  What  Thing  is  Love? 
to  the  ladies,  or  A  Pretty  Duck  There  Was  to  the  gentlemen,  'twas  not 
often  they'd  pass  me  by  without  a  smile  and  tuppence.  At  length  a  band 
of  wandering  gypsies,  traveling  down  from  Scotland  to  London,  heard  me 
sing  and  invited  me  to  join  them,  and  so  for  the  next  year  I  worked  and 
lived  with  those  curious  people.  They  were  tinkers,  horse-traders,  fortune- 
tellers, basket-makers,  dancers,  troubadours,  and  thieves.  I  dressed  in  their 
fashion,  ate,  drank,  and  slept  with  them,  and  they  taught  me  all  their 
songs  and  tricks.  Dear  Eben!  Had  you  seen  me  then,  you'd  ne'er  have 
doubted  for  an  instant  I  was  one  of  them!" 

"I  am  speechless,"  Ebenezer  declared.  "Tis  the  grandest  adventure  I 
have  heard!" 

"We  worked  our  way  slowly,  with  many  digressions,  from  Liverpool 
through  Manchester,  Sheffield,  Nottingham,  Leicester,  and  Bedford,  sleep- 
ing in  the  wagons  when  it  rained  or  out  under  the  stars  on  fine  nights.  In 
the  troupe  of  thirty  souls  I  was  the  only  one  who  read  and  wrote,  and  so  was 
of  great  assistance  to  them  in  many  ways.  Once  to  their  great  delight  I 
read  them  tales  out  of  Boccaccio— they  all  love  to  tell  and  hear  stories— 
and  they  were  so  surprised  to  learn  that  books  contain  such  marvelous 
pleasantries,  a  thing  which  erst  they'd  not  suspected,  that  they  began  to 
steal  every  book  they  could  find  for  me:  I  seldom  lacked  reading  that  year! 
It  happened  one  day  they  turned  up  a  primer,  and  I  taught  the  lot  of  'em 
their  letters,  for  which  services  they  were  unimaginably  grateful.  Despite 
my  being  a  'gorgio'  (by  which  name  they  call  non-gypsies)  they  initiated 
me  into  their  most  privy  matters  and  expressed  the  greatest  desire  for  me  to 
marry  into  their  group  and  travel  with  them  forever. 

"But  late  in  1670  we  arrived  here  in  Cambridge,,  having  wandered  down 
from  Bedford,  The  students  and  several  of  the  dons  took  a  great  fancy 
to  us,  and  though  they  made  too  free  with  sundry  of  our  women,  they 
treated  us  most  cordially,  even  bringing  us  to  their  rooms  to  sing  and  play 
for  them.  Thus  were  my  eyes  first  opened  to  the  world  of  learning  and 
scholarship,  and  I  knew  on  the  instant  that  my  interlude  with  the  gypsies 
was  done.  I  resolved  to  go  no  farther:  I  bid  adieu  to  my  companions  and 


[28]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

remained  in  Cambridge,  determined  to  starve  upon  the  street-corners  rather 
than  leave  this  magnificent  place." 

"Marry,  Henry!"  Ebenezer  said.  "Thy  courage  brings  me  nigh  to  weep- 
ing! What  did  you  then?" 

"Why,  so  soon  as  my  belly  commenced  to  rumble  I  stopped  short  where 
I  was  (which  happened  to  be  over  by  Christ's  College)  and  broke  into 
Flow  My  Tears,  it  being  of  all  the  songs  I  knew  the  most  plaintive.  And 
when  I  had  done  with  the  last  verse  of  it— 

Hark!  yon  Shadows  that  in  Darkness  dwell, 
Learn  jo  contemn  Light. 
Happy,  happy  they  that  in  Hell 
Feel  not  the  World's  Despite. 

—when  I  had  done,  I  say,  there  appeared  at  a  nearby  window  a  lean  frown- 
ing don,  who  enquired  of  me, 'What  manner  of  Cainite  was  I,  that  I 
counted  them  happy  who  must  fry  forever  in  the  fires  of  Hell?  And  another, 
who  came  to  the  window  beside  him,  a  fat  wight,  asked  me,  Did  I  not 
know  where  I  was?  To  which  I  answered,  'I  know  no  more,  good  masters, 
than  that  I  am  in  Cambridge  Town  and  like  to. perish  of  my  belly!'  Then 
the  first  don,  who  all  unbeknownst  to  me  was  having  a  merry  time  at  my 
expense,  told  me  I  was  in  Christ's  College,  and  that  he  and  all  his  fellows 
were  powerful  divines,  and  that  for  lesser  blasphemies  than  mine  they  had 
caused  men  to  be  broke  upon  the  wheel.  I  was  a  mere  sixteen  then,  and 
not  a  little  alarmed,  for  though  I'd  read  enough  scarce  to  credit  their  story, 
yet  I  knew  not  but  what  they  could  work  me  some  injury  or  other,  e'en 
were't  something  short  of  the  wheel.  Therefore  I  humbly  craved  their  par- 
don, and  pled  'twas  but  an  idle  song,  the  words  of  which  I  scarce  attended; 
so  that  were  there  aught  of  blasphemy  in't,  'twas  not  the  singer  should 
be  racked  for't  but  the  author,  John  Dowland,  who  being  long  since  dead, 
must  needs  already  have  had  the  sin  rendered  out  of  him  in  Satan's  try- 
works,  and  there's  an  end  on't!  At  this  methinks  the  merry  dons  had  like 
to  laugh  aloud,  but  they  put  on  sterner  faces  yet  and  ordered  me  into  their 
chamber.  There  they  farther  chastised  me,  maintaining  that  while  my  first 
offense  had  been  grievous  enough,  in  its  diminution  of  the  torments  of 
Hell,  this'last  remark  of  mine  had  on't  the  very  smell  of  the  stake.  'How 
is  that?'  I  asked  them.  'Why,'  the  lean  one  cried,  'to  hold  as  you  do  that 
they  who  perpetuate  another's  sin,  albeit  witlessly,  are  themselves  blameless, 
is  to  deny  the  doctrine  of  Original  Sin  itself,  for  who  are  Eve  and  Adam 
but  the  John  Dowlands  of  us  all,  whose  sinful  song  all  humankind  must 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  29  ] 

sing  willy-nilly  and  die  for't?'  'What  is  more/  the  fat  don  declared,  'in 
denying  the  mystery  of  Original  Sin  you  scorn  as  well  the  mystery  of 
Vicarious  Atonement— for  where's  the  sense  of  Salvation  for  them  that 
are  not  lost?' 

"  'Nay,  nay!'  said  I,  and  commenced  to  sniffling.  'Marry,  masters,  'twas 
but  an  idle  observation!  Prithee  take  no  notice  oft!' 

"'An  idle  observation!'  the  first  replied,,  and  laid  hold  of  my  arms. 
'Swounds,  boy!  You  scoff  at  the  two  cardinal  mysteries  of  the  Church, 
which  like  twin  pillars  bear  the  entire  edifice  of  Christendom;  you  as  much 
as  call  the  Crucifixion  a  vulgar  Mayfair  show;  and  to  top  all  you  regard 
such  unspeakable  blasphemies  as  idle  observations!  Tis  a  more  horrendous 
sin  yet!  Whence  came  thee  here,  anyhow?' 

"  'From  Bedford/  I  replied,  frightened  near  out  of  my  wits,  'with  a  band 
of  gypsies/  On  hearing  this  the  dons  feigned  consternation,  and  declared 
that  every  year  at  this  time  the  gypsies  passed  through  Cambridge  for  the 
sole  purpose,  since  they  are  heathen  to  a  man,  of  working  some  hurt  on 
the  divines.  Only  the  year  before,  they  said,  one  of  my  cohorts  had  sneaked 
privily  into  the  Trinity  brew-house  and  poisoned  a  vat  of  beer,  with  the 
result  that  three  Senior  Fellows,  four  Scholars,  and  a  brace  of  idle  Sizars 
were  done  to  death  ere  sundown.  Then  they  asked  me,  What  was  my 
design?  And  when  I  told  them  I  had  hoped  to  attach  myself  to  one  of 
their  number  as  a  serving-boy,'  the  better  to  improve  my  mind,  they  made 
out  I  was  come  to  poison  the  lot  of  'em.  So  saying,  they  stripped  me  naked 
on  the  spot,  despite  my  protestations  of  innocence,  and  on  pretext  of  seek- 
ing hidden  phials  of  vitriol  they  poked  and  probed  every  inch  of  my  person, 
and  pinched  and  tweaked  me  in  alarming  places.  Nay,  I  must  own  they 
laid  lecherous  hands  upon  me,  and  had  soon  done  me  a  violence  but  that 
their  sport  was  interrupted  by  another  don— an  aging,  saintlike  gentleman, 
clearly  their  superior— who  bade  them  stand  off  and  rebuked  them  for 
molesting  me.  I  flung  myself  at  his  feet,  and,  raising  me  up  and  looking 
at  me  from  top  to  toe,  he  enquired,  What  was  the  occasion  of  my  being 
disrobed?  I  replied,  I  had  but  sung  a  song  to  please  these  gentlemen, 
the  which  they  had  called  a  blasphemy,  and  had  then  so  diligently  searched 
me  for  phials  of  vitriol,  that  I  looked  to  be  costive  the  week  through. 

"The  old  don  then  commanded  me  to  sing  the  song  at  once,  that  he 
might  judge  of  its  blasphemy,  and  so  I  fetched  up  my  guitar,  which  the 
gypsies  had  taught  me  the  use  of,  and  as  best  I  could  (for  I  was  weeping 
and  shivering  with  fright)  I  once  again  sang  Flow  My  Tears.  Throughout 
the  piece  my  savior  smiled  on  me  sweetly  as  an  angel,  and  when  I  was 


[30]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

done  he  spoke  not  a  word  about  blasphemy,  but  kissed  me  upon  the  fore- 
head, bade  me  dress,  and  after  reproving  again  my  tormentors,  who  were 
mightily  ashamed  at  being  thus  surprised  in  their  evil  prank,  he  commanded 
me  to  go  with  him  to  his  quarters.  What's  more,  after  interrogating  me  at 
length  concerning  my  origin  and  my  plight,  and  expressing  surprise  and 
pleasure  at  the  extent  of  my  reading,  he  then  and  there  made  me  a  member 
of  his  household  staff,  to  serve  him  personally,  and  allowed  me  free  use  of 
his  admirable  library." 

"I  must  know  who  this  saintly  fellow  was,"  Ebenezer  interrupted.  "My 
curiosity  leaps  its  banks!" 

Burlingame  smiled  and  raised  a  finger.  "I  shall  tell  thee,  Eben;  but  not 
a  word  oft  must  you  repeat,  for  reasons  you'll  see  presently.  Whatever  his 
failings,  'twas  a  noble  turn  he  did  me,  and  I'd  not  see  his  name  besmirched 
by  any  man." 

"Never  fear,"  Ebenezer  assured  him.  "Twill  be  like  whispering  it  to 
thyself." 

"Very  well,  then.  I  shall  tell  thee  only  that  he  was  Platonist  to  the  ears, 
and  hated  Tom  Hobbes  as  he  hated  the  Devil,  and  was  withal  so  fixed 
on  things  of  the  spirit— on  essential  spissitude  and  indiscerptibility  and 
metaphysical  extension  and  the  like,  which  were  as  real  to  him  as  rocks 
and  cow-patties— that  he  scarce  lived  in  this  world  at  all  And  should  these 
be  still  not  sufficient  clues,  know  finally  that  he  was  at  that  time  much 
engrossed  in  a  grand  treatise  Against  the  materialist  philosophy,  which 
treatise  he  printed  the  following  year  under  the  title  Enchiridion  Meta- 
physicum" 

"  'Sheart!"  Ebenezer  whispered.  "My  dear  friend,  was't  Henry  More  him- 
self you  sang  for?  I  should  think  'twould  be  thy  boast,  not  an  embarrass- 
ment!" 

"Stay,  till  I  end  my  tale.  'Twas  in  sooth  great  More  himself  I  lived  with! 
None  knows  more  than  I  his  noble  character,  and  none  is  more  a  debtor 
to  his  generosity.  I  was  then  perhaps  seventeen:  I  tried  in  -every  way  I 
knew  to  be  a  model  of  intelligence,  good  manners,  and  industry,  and  ere 
long  the  old  fellow  would  allow  no  other  servant  near  him.  He  took  great 
pleasure  in  conversing  with  me,  at  first  about  my  adventures  at  sea  and 
with  the  gypsies,  but  later  on  matters  of  philosophy  and  theology,  with 
which  subjects  I  made  special  effort  to  acquaint  myself.  'Twas  plain  he'd 
conceived  a  great  liking  for  me." 

"Thou'rt  a  lucky  wight,  f  faith!"  Ebenezer  sighed. 

"Nay;  only  hear  me  out.  As  time  went  on  he  no  longer  addressed  me  as 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

'Dear  Henry/  or  'My  boy/  but  rather  'My  son/  and  'My  dear';  and  after 
that  'Dearest  thing/  and  finally  'Thingums/  'Precious  laddikins/  and  'Gypsy 
mine'  in  turn.  In  short,  as  I  soon  guessed,  his  affection  for  me  was  Athenian 
as  his  philosophy— -dare  I  tell  you  he  more  than  once  caressed  me,  and 
called  me  his  little  Alcibiades?" 

"I  am  amazed!"  said  Ebenezer.  "The  scoundrel  rescued  you  from  the 
other  blackguards,  merely  to  have  you  for  his  own  unnatural  lusts!" 

"Oh  la,  'twas  not  at  all  the  same  thing,  Eben.  The  others  were  men  in 
their  thirties,  full  to  bursting  (as  my  master  himself  put  it)  with  the  filth 
and  unclean  tinctures  of  corporeity.  More,  on  the  other  hand,  was  near 
sixty,  the  gentlest  of  souls,  and  scarce  realized  himself,  I  daresay,  the  char- 
acter of  his  passion:  I  had  no  fear  of  him  at  all.  And  here  I  must  confess, 
Eben,  I  did  a  shameful  thing:  so  intent  was  I  on  entering  the  University, 
that  instead  of  leaving  More's  service  as  soon  as  tact  would  permit,  I  lost 
no  opportunity  to  encourage  his  shameful  doting.  I  would  perch  on  the 
arm  of  his  chair  like  an  impudent  lass  and  read  over  his  shoulder,  or  cover 
his  eyes  for  a  tease,  or  spring  about  the  room  like  a  monkey,,  knowing  he 
admired  my  energy  and  grace.  Most  of  all  I  sang  and  played  on  my  guitar 
for  him:  many's  the  night — I  blush  to  tell  it!— when  I  would  let  him  come 
upon  me,  as  though  by  accident;  I  would  laugh  and  blush,  and  then  as  if 
to  make  a  lark  oft,  take  my  guitar  and  sing  FZoiv  My  Tears. 

"Need  I  say  the  poor  philosopher  was  simply  ravished?  His  passion  so 
took  governance  o'er  his  other  faculties,  he  grew  so  entirely  enamored  of 
me,  that  upon  my  granting  him  certain  trifling  favors,  which  I  knew  he'd 
long  coveted  but  scarce  hoped  for,  he  spent  nearly  all  his  meager  savings 
to  outfit  me  like  the  son  of  an  earl,  and  enrolled  me  in  Trinity  College." 

Here  Burlingame  lit  another  pipe,  and  sighed  in  remembrance. 

"I  was,  I  believe,  uncommonly  well-read  for  a  boy  my  age.  In  the  two 
years  with  More  I'd  mastered  Latin,  Greek,  and  Hebrew,  read  all  of  Plato, 
Tully,  Plotin,  and  divers  other  of  the  ancients,  and  at  least  perused  most 
of  the  standard  works  of  natural  philosophy.  My  benefactor  made  no  secret 
that  he  looked  for  me  to  become  as  notable  a  philosopher  as  Herbert  of 
Cherbury,  John  Smith,  or  himself— and  who  knows  but  what  I  might  have 
been,  had  things  turned  out  happily?  But  alas,  Eben,  that  same  shame- 
lessness  by  virtue  of  which  I  reached  my  goal  proved  my  undoing.  'Twas 
quite  poetic." 

"What  happened,  pray?" 

"I  was  not  strong  in  mathematics,"  Burlingame  said,  "and  for  that  reason 
I  devoted  much  of  my  study  to  that  subject,  and  spent  as  much  time  as 


t  32  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

I  could  with  mathematicians— especially  with  the  brilliant  young  man  who 
but  two  years  before,  in  1669,  had  taken  Barrow's  place  as  Lucasian  Pro- 
fessor of  Mathematics,  and  holds  the  office  yet.  .  .  ." 

"Newton!" 

"Aye,  the  wondrous  Isaac!  He  was  twenty-nine  or  thirty  then,  as  I  am 
now,  with  a  face  like  a  pure-bred  stallion's.  He  was  thin  and  strong  and 
marvelous  energetic,  much  given  to  moods;  he  had  the  arrogance  that  oft 
goes  with  great  gifts,  but  was  in  other  ways  quite  shy,  and  seldom  over- 
bearing. He  could  be  merciless  with  others'  theories,  yet  was  himself  in- 
ordinately sensitive  to  criticism.  He  was  so  diffident  about  his  talents  'twas 
with  great  reluctance  he  allowed  aught  of  his  discoveries  to  be  printed; 
yet  so  vain,  the  slightest  suggestion  that  someone  had  antedated  him  would 
drive  him  near  mad  with  rage  and  jealousy.  Impossible,  splendid  fellow!" 

"Marry,  he  frightens  me!"  Ebenezer  said. 

"Now  you  must  know  that  at  that  time  More  and  Newton  had  no  love 
whatever  for  each  other,  and  the  cause  of  their  enmity  was  the  French 
philosopher  Renatus  Descartes." 

"Descartes?  How  can  that  be?" 

"I  know  not  how  well  you've  heeded  your  tutors,"  Burlingame  said;  "you 
might  know  that  all  these  Platonical  gentleman  of  Christ's  and  Emmanuel 
Colleges  are  wont  to  sing  the  praises  of  Descartes,  inasmuch  as  he  makes 
a  great  show  of  pottering  about  in  mathematics  and  the  motions  of  heavenly 
bodies,  like  any  Galileo,  and  yet  unlike  Tom  Hobbes  he  affirms  the  real 
existence  of  God  and  the  soul,  which  pleases  them  no  end.  The  more  for 
that  the  lot  'em  are  Protestants:  this  much-vaunted  rejection  of  the  learning 
of  his  time,  that  Renatus  brags  of  in  his  Discourse  on  Method:  this  search- 
ing of  his  innards  for  his  axioms— is't  not  the  first  principle  of  Protestant- 
ism? Thus  it  is  that  Descartes'  system  is  taught  all  over  Cambridge,  and 
More,  like  the  rest,  praised  and  swore  by  him  as  by  a  latter-day  saint.  Tell 
me,  Eben:  how  is't,  d'you  think,  that  the  planets  are  moved  in  their 
courses?" 

"Why,"  said  Ebenezer,  "'tis  that  the  cosmos  is  filled  with  little  particles 
moving  in  vortices,  each  of  which  centers  on  a  star;  and  'tis  the  subtle  push 
and  pull  of  these  particles  in  our  solar  vortex  that  slides  the  planets  along 
their  orbs— is't  not?" 

"So  saith  Descartes,"  Burlingame  smiled.  "And  d'you  haply  recall  what 
is  the  nature  of  light?" 

"If  I  have't  right,"  replied  Ebenezer,  "'tis  an  aspect  of  the  vortices— 
of  the  press  of  inward  and  outward  forces  in  'em.  The  celestial  fire  is  sent 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  33  ] 

through  space  from  the  vortices  by  this  pressure,  which  imparts  a  transitional 
motion  to  little  light  globules " 

"Which  Renatus  kindly  hatched  for  that  occasion,"  Burlingame  inter- 
rupted. "And  what's  more  he  allows  his  globules  both  a  rectilinear  and  a 
rotatory  motion.  If  only  the  first  occurs  when  the  globules  smite  our  retinae, 
we  see  white  light;  if  both,  we  see  color.  And  as  if  this  were  not  magical 
enough— mirabile  dictul— when  the  rotatory  motion  surpasseth  the  rectilin- 
ear, we  see  blue;  when  the  reverse,  we  see  red;  and  when  the  twain  are 
equal,  we  see  yellow.  What  fantastical  drivel!" 

"You  mean  'tis  not  the  truth?  I  must  say,  Henry,  it  sounds  reasonable 
to  me.  In  sooth,  there  is  a  seed  of  poetry  in  it;  it  hath  an  elegance." 

"Aye,  it  hath  every  virtue  and  but  one  small  defect,,  which  is,  that  such 
is  not  the  case:  the  universe  doth  not  operate  in  that  wise.  Marry,  'tis  no 
crime,  methinks,  to  teach  the  man's  skeptical  philosophy  or  his  analytical 
geometry— both  have  much  of  merit  in  'em.  But  his  cosmology  is  purely 
fanciful,  his  optics  downright  bizarre;  and  the  first  man  to  prove  it  is 
Isaac  Newton." 

"Hence  their  enmity?"  asked  Ebenezer. 

Burlingame  nodded.  "By  the  time  Newton  became  Lucasian  Professor 
he  had  already  spoilt  Cartesian  optics  with  his  prism  experiments— and 
well  do  I  recall  them  from  his  lectures!— and  he  was  refuting  the  theory 
of  vortices  by  mathematics,  though  he  hadn't  as  yet  published  his  own 
cosmical  hypotheses.  But  his  loathing  for  Descartes  goes  deeper  yet:  it  hath 
its  origin  in  a  difference  betwixt  their  temperaments.  Descartes,  you  know, 
is  a  clever  writer,  and  hath  a  sort  of  genius  for  illustration  that  lends  force 
to  the  wildest  hypotheses.  He  is  a  great  hand  for  twisting  the  cosmos 
to  fit  his  theory.  Newton,  on  the  other  hand,  is  a  patient  and  brilliant  ex- 
perimenter, with  a  sacred  regard  for  the  facts  of  nature.  Then  again,  since 
the  lectures  De  Motu  Corporum  and  his  papers  on  the  nature  of  light  have 
been  available,  the  man  always  held  up  to  him  by  his  critics  is  Descartes. 

"So,  then,  no  love  was  lost  'twixt  Newton  and  More;  they  had  in  fact 
been  quietly  hostile  to  each  other  for  some  years.  And  when  I  became  the 
focus  oft,  their  antagonism  boiled  over." 

"You?  But  you  were  a  simple  student,  were  you  not?  Surely  two  such 
giants  ne'er  would  stoop  to  fight  their  battles  with  their  students." 

"Must  I  draw  a  picture,  Eben?"  Burlingame  said.  "I  was  out  to  learn 
the  nature  of  the  universe  from  Newton,  but  knowing  I  was  More's  prot6g6, 
he  was  cold  and  incommunicative  with  me.  I  employed  every  strategy  I 
knew  to  remove  this  barrier,  and,  alas,  won  more  than  I'd  fought  for-— 


[  34  ]  1™  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

in  plain  English,  Eben,  Newton  grew  as  enamored  of  me  as  had  More, 
with  this  difference  only,  that  there  was  naught  Platonical  in  his  passion." 

"I  know  not  what  to  think!"  cried  Ebenezer. 

"Nor  did  I,"  said  Burlingame,  "albeit  one  thing  I  knew  well,  which  was 
that  save  for  the  impersonal  respect  I  bare  the  twain  of  'em,  I  cared  not 
a  fart  for  either.  Tis  a  wise  thing,  Eben,  not  to  confuse  one  affection  with 
another.  Well,  sir,  as  the  months  passed,  each  of  my  swains  came  to  realize 
the  passions  of  the  other,  and  both  grew  as  jealous  as  Cervantes'  Celoso 
Extremeno.  They  carried  on  shamefully,  and  each  threatened  my  ruination 
in  the  University  should  I  not  give  o'er  the  other.  As  for  me,  I  paid  no  more 
heed  than  necessary  to  either,  but  wallowed  in  the  libraries  of  the  colleges 
like  a  dolphin  in  the  surf.  Twas  job  enough  for  me  to  remember  to  eat 
and  sleep,  much  less  fulfill  the  million  little  obligations  they  thought  I 
owed  'em.  Ffaith,  a  handsome  pair!" 

"Prithee,  what  was  the  end  of  it?" 

Burlingame  sighed.  "I  played  the  one  against  the  other  for  above  two 
years,  till  at  last  Newton  could  endure  it  no  longer.  The  Royal  Society 
had  by  this  time  published  his  experiments  with  prisms  and  reflecting 
telescopes,  and  he  was  under  fire  from  Robert  Hooke,  who  had  light  theories 
of  his  own;  from  the  Dutchman  Christian  Huygens,  who  was  committed 
to  the  lens  telescope;  from  the  French  monk  Pardies;  and  from  the  Belgian 
Linus.  So  disturbed  was  he  by  the  conjunction  of  this  criticism  and  his 
jealousy,  that  in  one  and  the  same  day  he  swore  ne'er  to  publish  another 
of  his  discoveries,  and  confronted  More  in  the  latter's  chambers  with  the 
intent  of  challenging  him  to  settle  their  rivalry  for  good  and  all  by  means 
of  a  duel  to  the  death!" 

"Ah,  what  a  loss  to  the  world,  whatever  the  issue  oft!"  observed  Ebenezer. 

"As't  happened,  no  blood  was  let,"  Burlingame  said:  "the  tale  ends  hap- 
pily for  them  both,  if  not  for  the  teller.  After  much  discourse  Newton 
discovered  that  his  rival's  position  was  uncertain  as  his  own,  and  that  I 
seemed  equally  indifferent  to  both-which  conclusion,  insofar  as't  touches 
the  particular  matters  they  had  in  mind,  is  as  sound  as  any  in  the  Principia. 
In  addition  More  showed  to  Newton  his  Enchiridion  Metaphysicum, 
wherein  he  plainly  expressed  a  growing  disaffection  for  Descartes;  and  New- 
ton assured  More  that  albeit  'twas  universal  gravitation,  and  not  angels 
or  vortices,  that  steered  the  planets  in  their  orbits,  there  yet  remained 
employment  enough  for  the  Deity  as  a  first  cause  to  set  the  cosmic  wheels 
a-spin,  e'en  as  old  Renatus  had  declared.  In  fine>  so  far  from  dueling  to 
the  death,  they  so  convinced  each  other  that  at  the  end  of  some  hours  of 


THE   SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  35  ] 

colloquy— all  of  which  I  missed,  being  then  engrossed  in  the  library— they 
fell  to  tearful  embraces,  and  decided  then  and  there  to  cut  me  off  without 
a  penny,  arrange  my  dismissal  from  the  College,  and  move  into  the  same 
lodgings,  where,  so  they  declared,  they  would  couple  the  splendors  of  the 
physical  world  to  the  glories  of  the  ideal,  and  listen  ravished  to  the  music 
of  the  spheres!  This  last  they  never  did  in  fact,  but  their  connection  endures 
to  this  day,  and  from  all  I  hear,  More  hath  washed  his  hands  entirely  of 
old  Descartes,  while  Newton  hath  caught  a  foolish  infatuation  with  theology, 
and  seeks  to  explain  the  Apocalypse  by  application  of  his  laws  of  series 
and  fluxions.  As  for  the  first  two  of  their  resolves,  they  fulfilled  'em  to  the 
letter— turned  me  out  to  starve,  and  so  influenced  all  and  sundry  against 
me  that  not  a  shilling  could  I  beg,  nor  eat  one  meal  on  credit.  'Twas  off 
to  London  I  went,  with  not  a  year  'twixt  me  and  the  baccalaureate.  Thus 
was  it,  in  1676,  upon  my  advertising  my  desire  for  employment,  that  your 
father  found  me;  and  playing  fickle  to  the  scholar's  muse,  I  turned  to  you 
and  your  dear  sister  all  the  zeal  I'd  erst  reserved  for  my  researches.  Your 
instruction  became  my  First  Good,  my  Primary  Cause,  which  lent  to  all 
else  its  form  and  order.  And  my  fickleness  is  thorough  and  entire:  not  for 
an  instant  have  I  regretted  the  way  of  my  life,  or  thought  wistfully  of 
Cambridge." 

"Dear,  dear  Henry!"  Ebenezer  cried.  "How  thy  tale  moves  me,  and 
shames  me,  that  I  let  slip  through  idleness  what  you  strove  so  hard  in  vain 
to  reach!  Would  God  I  had  another  chance!" 

"Nay,  Eben,  thou'rt  no  scholar,  I  fear.  You  have  perchance  the  school- 
man's love  of  lore,  but  not  the  patience,  not  the  address,  not  I  fear  that 
certain  nose  for  relevance,  that  grasp  of  the  world,  which  sets  apart  the 
thinker  from  the  crank.  There  is  a  thing  in  you,  a  set  of  the  grain  as  'twere, 
that  would  keep  you  ingenuous  even  if  all  the  books  in  all  the  libraries 
of  Europe  were  distilled  in  your  brain.  Nay,  let  the  baccalaureate  go;  I 
came  here  not  to  exhort  you  to  try  again,  or  to  chide  you  for  failing,  but 
to  take  you  with  me  to  London  for  a  time,  until  you  see  your  way  clearly. 
'Twas  Anna's  idea,  who  loves  you  more  than  herself,  and  I  think  it  wise." 

"Precious  Anna!  How  came  she  to  know  thy  whereabouts?" 

"There,  now,"  laughed  Burlingame,  "that  is  another  tale  entirely,  and 
'twill  do  for  another  time.  Come  with  me  to  London,  and  I'll  tell  it  thee 
in  the  carriage." 

Ebenezer  hesitated.  "  Tis  a  great  step." 

"'Tis  a  great  world  and  a  short  life!"  replied  Burlingame.  "A  pox  on 
all  steps  but  great  ones!" 


[  36  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"I  fear  me  what  Father  would  say,  did  he  hear  oft." 

"My  dear  fellow/'  Burlingame  said  caustically,  "we  sit  here  on  a  blind 
rock  careening  through  space;  we  are  all  of  us  rushing  headlong  to  the 
grave.  Think  you  the  worms  will  care,  when  anon  they  make  a  meal  of 
you,  whether  you  spent  your  moment  sighing  wigless  in  your  chamber, 
or  sacked  the  golden  towns  of  Montezuma?  Lookee,  the  day's  nigh  spent; 
'tis  gone  careening  into  time  forever.  Not  a  tale's  length  past  we  lined  our 
bowels  with  dinner,  and  already  they  growl  for  more.  We  are  dying  men, 
Ebenezer:  i'faith,  there's  time  for  naught  but  bold  resolves!" 

"You  lend  me  courage,  Henry,"  Ebenezer  said,  rising  from  the  table, 
"Let  us  begone." 


4:    EBENEZER'S  FIRST  SOJOURN  IN  LONDON,  AND 
THE  ISSUE  OF  IT 


BURLINGAME  SLEPT  THAT  NIGHT  IN  EBENEZERT$  ROOM,  AND  THE  NEXT 

day  they  left  Cambridge  for  London  by  carriage. 

"I  think  you've  not  yet  told  me,"  the  young  man  said  en  route,  "how 
it  is  you  left  St.  Giles  so  suddenly,  and  how  Anna  came  to  know  your 
whereabouts." 

Burlingame  sighed.  "'Tis  a  simple  mystery,  if  a  sad  one.  The  fact  is, 
Eben,  your  father  fancies  I  have  designs  upon  your  sister." 

"Nay!  Incredible!" 

"Ah,  now,  as  for  that,  'tis  not  so  incredible;  Anna  is  a  sweet  and  clever 
girl,  and  uncommon  lovely." 

^"Yet  think  of  your  ages!"  Ebenezer  said.  "'Tis  absurd  of  Father!" 

"Think  you  'tis  absurd?"  Burlingame  asked,  coloring  slightly.  "Thou'rt 
a  candid  fellow." 

"Ah,  forgive  me,"  Ebenezer  laughed;  "'twas  a  rude  remark.  Nay,  'tis 
not  Absurd  at  all:  thou'rt  but  thirty-odd,  and  Anna  twenty-one.  I  dare- 
say 'tis  that  you  were  our  teacher  made  me  think  of  you  as  older." 

"'Twere  no  absurd  suspicion,  methinks,  that  any  man  might  look  with 
love  on  Anna,"  Burlingame  declared,  "and  I  did  indeed  love  the  both  of 
you  for  years,  and  love  you  yet;  nor  did  I  ever  try  to  hide  the  fact.  Tis  not 
that  which  distresses  me;  'tis  Andrew's  notion  that  I  had  vicious  designs 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  37  ] 

on  the  girl.  'Sheart,  if  anything  be  improbable,  'tis  that  so  marvelous  a 
qreature  as  Anna  could  look  with  favor  on  a  penniless  pedagogue!" 

"Nay,  Henry,  I  have  oft  heard  her  protest,  that  by  comparison  to  you, 
none  of  her  acquaintances  was  worth  the  labor  of  being  civil  to." 

"Anna  said  that?" 

"Aye,  in  a  letter  not  two  months  past." 

"Ah  well,  whatever  the  case,  Andrew  took  my  regard  for  her  as  lewd 
intent,  and  threatened  me  one  afternoon  that  should  I  not  begone  ere 
morning  he'd  shoot  me  like  a  dog  and  horsewhip  dear  Anna  into  the 
bargain.  I  had  no  fear  for  myself,  but  not  to  risk  bringing  injury  to  her 
I  left  at  once,  albeit  it  tore  my  heart  to  go." 

Ebenezer  sat  amazed  at  this  revelation.  "How  she  wept  that  morning! 
and  yet  neither  she  nor  Father  told  me  aught  oft!" 

"Nor  must  you  speak  of  it  to  either,"  Burlingame  warned,  "for  'twould 
but  embarrass  Anna,  would  it  not?  And  anger  Andrew  afresh,  for  there's 
no  statute  of  limitations  within  a  family.  Think  not  you'll  reason  him  out 
of  his  notion:  he  is  convinced  of  it." 

"I  suppose  so,"  Ebenezer  said  doubtfully.  "Then  Anna  has  been  in  cor- 
respondence with  you  since?" 

"Not  so  regularly  as  I  could  wish.  Egad,  how  I've  yearned  for  news  of 
you!  I  took  lodgings  on  Thames  Street,  between  Billingsgate  and  the 
Customs-House— far  cry  from  the  summer-pavilion  at  St.  Giles,  you'll  see! 
—and  hired  myself  as  tutor  whenever  I  was  able,  in  order  to  eat,  though 
I've  had  no  pleasure  in  my  students.  For  two  years  and  more  I  was  unable 
to  communicate  with  Anna,  for  fear  your  father  would  hear  oft,  but  some 
months  ago  I  chanced  to  be  engaged  as  a  tutor  in  French  to  a  Miss  Bromly 
from  Plumtree  Street,  that  remembered  you  and  Anna  as  playmates  ere 
you  removed  to  St.  Giles.  Through  her  I  was  able  to  tell  Anna  where  I  live, 
and  though  I  dare  not  write  to  her,  she  hath  contrived  on  two  or  three 
occasions  to  send  me  letters.  Twas  thus  I  learned  the  state  of  your  affairs, 
and  I  was  but  too  pleased  to  act  on  her  suggestion  that  I  fetch  you  out 
of  Cambridge.  She  is  a  dear  gidr  Eben!" 

"I  long  to  see  her  again!"  Ebenezer  said. 

"And  I,"  said  Burlingame,  "for  I  esteem  her  as  highly  as  thee,  and  'tis 
three  years  since  I've  seen  her." 

"Think  you  she  might  visit  us  in  London?" 

"Nay,  I  fear  'tis  out  of  the  question.  Andrew  would  have  none  of  it." 

"Yet  surely  I  cannot  resign  myself  to  never  seeing  her  again!  Can  you, 
Henry?" 


[  38  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"Tis  not  my  wont  to  look  that  far  ahead,"  Burlingame  said.  "Let  us 
consider  rather  how  you'll  occupy  yourself  in  London.  You  must  not  sit 
idle,  lest  you  slip  again  into  languishment  and  stupor/7 

"Alas,"  said  Ebenezer,  "I  cannot  decide  on  a  life  work;  I  have  no  long- 
term  goals  toward  which  to  labor." 

"Then  follow  my  example/'  advised  Burlingame,  "and  set  as  your  long- 
term  goal  the  successful  completion  of  all  your  short-term  goals.  Could  one 
wish  a  better?" 

"Yet  neither  have  I  any  short-term  goal." 

"Ah,  but  you  will  ere  long,  when  your  belly  growls  for  dinner  and  your 
money's  gone." 

"Unhappy  day!"  laughed  Ebenezer.  "I've  no  skill  in  any  craft  or  trade 
whatever.  I  cannot  even  play  Flow  My  Tears  on  the  guitar.  I  can  do  noth- 
ing/' 

"Then  'tis  plain  you'll  be  a  teacher,  like  myself." 

"'Sheart!  Twould  be  the  blind  leading  the  blind!" 

"Aye,*  smiled  Burlingame.  "Who  better  grasps  the  trials  of  sightlessness 
than  he  whose  eyes  are  gone?" 

"But  what  teach?  I  know  something  of  many  things,  and  enough  of 
naught." 

"I'faith,  then  the  field  is  open,  and  you  may  graze  where  you  list." 

"Teach  a  thing  I  know  naught  of?"  exclaimed  Ebenezer. 

"And  raise  thy  fee  for't,"  replied  Burlingame,  "inasmuch  as  'tis  no  chore 
to  teach  what  you  know,  but  to  teach  what  you  know  naught  of  requires  a 
certain  application.  Choose  a  thing  you'd  greatly  like  to  learn,  and  straight- 
way proclaim  yourself  professor  oft." 

Ebenezer  shook  his  head.  "Tis  still  impossible;  I  am  curious  about  the 
world  in  general,  and  ne'er  could  choose." 

'Very  well,  then:  I  dub  thee  Professor  of  the  Nature  of  the  World, 
and  as  such  shall  we  advertise  you.  Whate'er  your  students  wish  to  learn 
oft,  that  will  you  teach  them/' 

^Thou'rt  jesting,  Henry!" 

"Ift  be  a  jest,"  replied  Burlingame,  "'tis  a  happy  one,  I  swear,  for  just 
so  have  I  lined  my  belly  these  three  years.  B'm'faith,  the  things  Fve  taught! 
The  great  thing  is  always  to  be  teaching  something  to  someone— a  fig  for 
what  or  to  whom.  'Tis  no  trick  at  all." 

No  matter  what  Ebenezer  thought  of  this  proposal,  he  had  not  the 
wherewithal  to  reject  it:  immediately  on  arriving  in  London  he  moved  into 
Burlingame's  chambers  by  the  river  and  was  established  as  a  full  partner. 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  39  ] 

A  few  days  after  that,  Burlingame  brought  him  his  first  customer— a  lout  of 
a  tailor  from  Crutched  Friars  who  happily  desired  to  be  taught  nothing 
more  intricate  than  his  A  B  Cs— and  for  the  next  few  months  Ebenezer 
earned  his  living  as  a  pedagogue.  He  worked  six  or  seven  hours  a  day, 
both  in  his  rooms  and  at  the  homes  of  his  students,  and  spent  most  of 
his  free  time  studying  desperately  for  the  following  day's  lessons.  What 
leisure  he  had  he  spent  in  the  taverns  and  coffee-houses  with  a  small  circle 
of  Burlingame's  acquaintances,  mostly  idle  poets.  Impressed  by  their  ap- 
parent confidence  in  their  talent,  he  too  endeavored  on  several  occasions 
to  write  poems,  but  abandoned  the  effort  each  time  for  want  of  anything 
to  write  about. 

At  his  insistence  a  devious  correspondence  was  established  with  his  sister 
through  Miss  Bromly,  Burlingame's  pupil,  and  after  two  months  Anna  con- 
trived to  visit  them  in  London,  using  as  excuse  the  illness  of  a  spinster 
aunt,  Andrew's  sister,  who  lived  near  Leadenhall.  The  twins  were,  as  may 
be  imagined,  overjoyed  to  see  each  other  again,  for  although  conversation 
did  not  come  so  readily  since  Ebenezer's  departure  from  St.  Giles  three 
years  before,  each  still  bore,  abstractly  at  least,  the  greatest  affection  and 
regard  for  the  other.  Burlingame,  too,  Anna  expressed  considerable  but 
properly  decorous  pleasure  in  seeing  again.  She  had  changed  somewhat 
since  Ebenezer  had  seen  her  last:  her  brown  hair  had  lost  something  of 
its  shine,  and  her  face,  while  still  fair,  was  leaner  and  less  girlish  than  he 
remembered  it. 

"My  dear  Anna!"  he  said  for  the  fourth  or  fifth  time.  "How  good  it  is 
to  hear  your  voice!  Tell  me,  how  did  you  leave  Father?  Is  he  well?" 

Anna  shook  her  head.  "Well  on  the  way  to  Bedlam,,  I  fear,  or  to  driving 
me  there.  Tis  your  disappearance,  Eben;  it  angers  and  frightens  him  at 
once.  He  knows  not  the  cause  oft,  or  whether  to  comb  the  realm  for  you 
or  disown  you.  A  dozen  times  daily  he  demands  of  me  whether  I  know 
aught  of  your  whereabouts,  or  else  rails  at  me  for  keeping  things  from  him. 
He  is  grown  hugely  suspicious  of  me,  and  yet  sometimes  asks  of  you  so 
plaintively  as  to  move  my  tears.  He  has  aged  much  these  past  weeks,  and 
though  he  blows  and  blusters  no  less  than  before,  his  heart  is  not  in  it, 
and  it  saps  his  strength." 

"Ah,  God,  it  pains  me  to  hear  that!" 

"And  me,"  said  Burlingame,  "for  though  old  Andrew  hath  small  love 
for  me,  I  wish  him  no  ill." 

"I  do  think,"  Anna  said  to  Ebenezer,  "that  you  should  strive  to  es- 
tablish yourself  in  some  calling,  and  communicate  with  him  directly  you 


[40]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

find  a  place;  for  despite  the  abuse  he'll  surely  heap  on  you,  'twill  ease  his 
soul  to  learn  thou'rt  well,  and  well  established." 

"And  'twould  ease  mine  to  ease  his/'  Ebenezer  said. 

"Marry,  and  yet  'tis  your  own  life!"  Burlingame  cried  impatiently.  "Fil- 
ial love  be  damned,  it.  galls  me  sore  to  see  the  pair  of  you  o'erawed  by  the 
pompous  rascal!" 

"Henry!"  Anna  chided. 

"You  must  pardon  me,"  Burlingame  said;  "I  mean  no  harm  by't.  But 
lookee,  Anna,  'tis  not  alone  Andrew's  health  that  suffers.  Thou'rt  peaked 
thyself,  and  wan,  and  I  mark  a  sobering  of  your  spirits.  You  too  should 
flee  St.  Giles  for  London,  as  your  aunt's  companion  or  the  like." 

"Am  I  wan  and  solemn?"  Anna  asked  gently.  "Haply  'tis  mere  age,,  Henry: 
one-and-twenty  is  no  more  a  careless  child.  But  prithee  ask  me  not  to  leave 
St.  Giles;  'tis  to  ask  Father's  death." 

"Or  belike  she  hath  a  suitor  there,"  Ebenezer  said  to  Burlingame.  "Is't 
not  so,  Anna?"  he  teased.  "Some  rustic  swain,  perchance,  that  hath  won 
your  heart?  One-and-twenty  is  no  child,  but  'twere  a  passing  good  wife, 
were't  not?  Say,  Henry,  see  the  girl  blush!  Methinks  I've  hit  on't!" 

"  'Twere  a  lucky  bumpkin,  b'm'faith,"  Burlingame  remarked. 

"Nay,"  said  Anna,  "twit  me  no  more  on't,  Brother,  I  pray  you." 

She  was  so  plainly  overwrought  that  Ebenezer  at  once  begged  her 
forgiveness  for  his  tease. 

Anna  kissed  his  cheek.  "How  shall  I  marry,  when  the  man  I  love  best 
hath  the  bad  sense  to  be  my  brother?  What  say  the  books  at  Cambridge, 
Eben?  Was  e'er  a  maid  less  lucky?" 

"Nay,  i'faith!"  laughed  Ebenezer.  "You'll  live  and  die  a  maiden  ere 
you  find  my  like!  Yet  I  commend  my  friend  here  to  your  attention,  who 
though  something  gone  in  years  yet  sings  a  creditable  tenor,  and  is  the 
devil's  own  good  fellow!" 

As  soon  as  he  spoke  it  Ebenezer  realized  the  tactlessness  of  his  remark 
in  the  light  of  what  Burlingame  had  told  him  weeks  before  of  Andrew's 
suspicions;  both  men  blushed  at  once,  but  Anna  saved  the  situation  by 
kissing  Burlingame  lightly  on  the  cheek  as  she  had  kissed  her  brother,  and 
saying  easily,  "'Twere  no  mean  catch,  if  you  speak  truly.  Doth  he  know 
his  letters?" 

"What  matter?"  Burlingame  asked,  joining  the  raillery.  "Whatever  I  lack, 
this  fellow  here  can  teach  me,  or  so  he  vaunts." 

"  'Swounds,  that  reminds  me,"  Ebenezer  said,  jumping  up,  "I  must  run 
to  Tower  Hill  this  minute,  to  give  young  Farmsley  his  first  recorder  lesson!" 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  41  ] 

He  fetched  an  alto  recorder  from  the  mantelpiece.  "Quickly,  Henry,  how 
doth  one  blow  the  thing?" 

"Nay,  not  quickly:  slowly,"  Burlingame  said.  "'Twere  a  grievous  error 
to  learn  an  art  too  fast.  On  no  account  must  thy  Farmsley  blow  a  note 
ere  he's  spent  an  hour  fondling  the  instrument,  holding  it  properly,  taking 
it  apart  and  fitting  it  together.  And  never,  never  should  the  master  show 
off  his  own  ability,  lest  the  student  grow  discouraged  at  the  distance  he 
must  travel.  I'll  teach  you  the  left-hand  notes  tonight,  and  you  can  play 
Les  Bouffons  for  him  on  the  morrow/' 

"Must  you  go?"  Anna  asked. 

"Aye,  or  'tis  stale  bread  come  Sunday,,  for  Henry  hath  no  scholars  of 
his  own  this  week.  I  shall  trust  you  to  his  care  till  I  return." 

Anna  remained  a  week  in  London,  slipping  away  from  her  aunt's  bed- 
side as  often  as  possible  to  visit  Ebenezer  and  Burlingame.  At  the  end  of 
that  time,  the  aunt  having  recuperated  sufficiently  to  manage  for  herself, 
she  announced  her  intention  to  return  to  St.  Giles,  and  to  Burlingame's 
considerable  surprise  and  distress,  Ebenezer  declared  that  he  was  going 
with  her— nor  could  any  amount  of  expostulation  change  his  mind. 

"  Tis  no  good,"  he  would  say,  shaking  his  head.  "I  am  not  a  teacher." 

"Damn  me,"  Burlingame  cried,  "if  thou'rt  not  fleeing  responsibility!" 

"Nay.  If  I  flee,  I  flee  to  it,  not  from  it.  Twas  a  coward's  act  to  hide 
from  Father's  wrath.  I  shall  ask  his  pardon  and  do  whate'er  he  requires 
of  me." 

"A  pox  on  his  anger!  'Tis  not  responsibility  to  him  I  speak  of  at  all, 
but  responsibility  to  thyself.  Twere  a  noble  act,  on  the  face  oft,-  to  beg 
his  pardon  and  take  your  birching  like  a  man,  but  'tis  no  more  than  an 
excuse  for  dropping  the  reins  of  your  own  life.  'Sheart,  'tis  a  manlier  matter 
to  set  your  goal  and  swallow  the  consequences!" 

Ebenezer  shook  his  head.  "Put  what  face  you  will  upon  it,  Henry,  I 
must  go.  Can  a  son  stand  by  and  watch  his  father  fret  to  an  early  grave?" 

"Think  no  ill  oft,  Henry,"  Anna  pleaded. 

"Surely  you  don't  believe  it  a  wise  move  also?"  Burlingame  asked  in- 
credulously. 

"I  cannot  judge  the  wisdom  oft,"  Anna  replied,  "but  certain  'twere  not 
a  wrong  thing  to  do." 

"Marry,  I  have  done  with  the  twain  of  you!"  Burlingame  cried.  "Praise 
Heav'n  I  know  not  my  own  father,  if  this  be  how  they  shackle  one!" 

"I  pray  Heav'n  rather  you  may  someday  find  him,"  Anna  said  calmly, 


[42]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"or  word  of  him,  at  least.  A  man's  father  is  his  link  with  the  past:  the 
bond  'twixt  him  and  the  world  he's  born  to." 

"Then  again  I  thank  Heav'n  I'm  quit  of  mine/'  said  Burlingame.  "It 
leaves  me  free  and  unencumbered.7' 

"It  doth  in  sooth,  Henry,"  Anna  said  with  some  emotion,  "for  better 
or  worse." 

When  the  time  came  to  leave,  Ebenezer  asked,  "When  shall  we  see  you 
again,  Henry?  I  shall  miss  you  painfully." 

But  Burlingame  only  shrugged  and  said,  "Stay  here  now,  if  t  pain  you 
so." 

"I  shall  visit  as  often  as  I  can." 

"Nay,  risk  not  your  father's  displeasure.  Besides,  I  may  be  gone." 

"Gone?"  asked  Anna,  with  mild  alarm.  "Gone  whither,  Henry?" 

He  shrugged  again.  "There's  naught  to  keep  me  here.  I  care  not  a  fig 
for  any  of  my  pupils,  save  to  pass  the  time  till  something  else  absorbs  me." 

After  making  their  good-byes,  which  their  friend's  bitterness  rendered 
awkward,,  Ebenezer  and  Anna  hired  a  carriage  to  fetch  them  to  St.  Giles 
in  the  Fields.  The  little  journey,  though  uneventful,  they  both  enjoyed, 
for  despite  the  fact  that  Anna  was  disturbed  to  the  point  of  occasional 
tears  over  Burlingame's  attitude,  and  Ebenezer  grew  more  anxious  by 
the  mile  at  the  prospect  of  confronting  his  father,  the  carriage-ride  was 
the  twins'  first  opportunity  in  some  time  to  converse  privately  and  at 
length.  When  finally  they  arrived  at  the  Cooke  estate  they  found  to  their 
alarm  that  Andrew  had  taken  to  his  bed  three  days  before,  at  the  direction 
of  his  physician,  and  was  being  cared  for  by  Mrs.  Twigg,  the  housekeeper, 
like  an  invalid. 

"Dear  God!"  cried  Anna.  "And  I  in  London  all  the  while!" 

"  'Tis  no  fault  of  yours,  my  dear,"  said  Mrs.  Twigg.  "He  told  us  not  to 
send  for  you.  'Twould  do  him  good  to  see  you,  though,  I'm  certain." 

"I  shall  go  too,"  Ebenezer  declared. 

"Nay,  not  just  yet,"  Anna  said.  "Let  me  see  what  state  he's  in,  and  how 
'twill  strike  him.  'Twere  best  to  prepare  him  for  it,  don't  you  think?" 

Ebenezer  agreed,  somewhat  reluctantly,  for  he  feared  his  courage  would 
fail  him  should  he  postpone  the  move  too  long.  That  same  day,  however, 
Andrew's  physician  paid  a  call  to  the  estate,  and  after  learning  what  the 
situation  was  and  assuring  Ebenezer  that  his  father  was  too  weak  to  make 
a  scene,  he  took  it  upon  himself  to  announce  to  Andrew,  as  tactfully  as 
possible,  that  his  son  had  returned. 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  43  ] 

"He  desires  to  see  you  at  once/'  the  physician  reported  afterwards  to 
Ebenezer. 

"Is  he  terribly  wroth?"  Ebenezer  asked. 

"I  think  not.  Your  sister's  return  raised  his  spirits,  and  I  recalled  to  him 
the  story  of  the  prodigal  son." 

Ebenezer  went  upstairs  and  into  his  father's  bedchamber,  a  room  he  had 
entered  not  more  than  thrice  in  his  life.  He  found  his  father  anything  but 
the  figure  he'd  feared:  lying  wigless  and  thin  in  the  bed,  he  looked  nearer 
seventy  than  fifty;  his  cheeks  were  hollow,  his  eyes  pale;  his  hair  was  turning 
white,  his  voice  querulous.  At  the  sight  of  him  Ebenezer  quite  forgot  a 
small  speech  of  apology  he'd  concocted;  tears  sprang  to  his  eyes,  and  he  knelt 
beside  the  bed. 

"Get  up,  son,  get  up,"  Andrew  said  with  a  sigh,  ''and  let  me  look  at  ye. 
'Tis  good  to  see  ye  again,  I  swear  it." 

"Is't  possible  thou'rt  not  enraged?"  Ebenezer  asked,  speaking  with 
difficulty,  "My  conduct  warrants  it." 

"Ffaith,  Fve  no  longer  the  heart  for't.  Thou'rt  my  son  in  any  case,  and 
my  only  son,  and  if  I  could  wish  a  better,  you  too  might  wish  a  better 
father.  Tis  no  light  matter  to  be  a  good  one," 

"I  owe  you  much  explanation." 

"Mark  the  debt  canceled,"  Andrew  said,  "for  I've  not  the  strength  for 
that  either.  Tis  the  bad  child's  grace  to  repent,  and  the  bad  father's  to 
forgive,  and  there's  an  end  on't.  Stay,  now,  I've  a  deal  to  say  to  you  and 
small  wind  to  say  it  in.  In  yonder  table  lies  a  paper  I  drafted  only  yesterday, 
when  the  world  looked  somewhat  darker  than  it  doth  today.  Fetch  it  hither, 
if  t  please  ye." 

Ebenezer  did  as  he  was  instructed. 

"Now,"  said  his  father,  holding  the  paper  away  from  Ebenezer's  view, 
"ere  I  show  ye  this,  say  truly:  are  ye  quite  ready  to  have  done  with  flitting 
hither  and  yon,  and  commence  to  carry  a  man's  portion  like  a  man?  If  not, 
ye  may  put  this  back  where  ye  fetched  it." 

"I  shall  do  whate'er  you  wish,  sir,"  Ebenezer  said  soberly. 

"Marry,  'tis  almost  too  much  to  hopel  Mrs.  Twigg  has  oft  maintained 
that  English  babies  ne'er  should  take  French  tit,  and  lays  as  the  root  o' 
your  prodigality  the  pull  and  tug  of  French  milk  with  English  blood.  Yet 
I  have  e'er  hoped,  and  hope  still,  that  soon  or  late  I'll  see  ye  a  man,,  in  sooth 
an  Ebenezer  for  our  house." 

"Beg  pardon,  sir!  I  must  own  I  lose  you  in  this  talk  of  French  milk  and 
Ebenezers.  Surely  my  mother  wasn't  French?" 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"Nay,  nay,  thou'rt  English  sired  and  English  foaled,  ye  may  be  certain. 
Damn  that  doctor,  anyway!  Fetch  me  a  pipe  and  sit  ye  down,  boy,  and 
I  shall  lay  your  history  open  to  ye  once  for  all,  and  the  matter  I'm  most 
concerned  with." 

"Is't  not  unwise  to  tire  yourself?"  Ebenezer  inquired. 

"La,"  Andrew  scoffed,  "by  the  same  logic  'tis  folly  to  live.  Nay,  I'll  rest 
soon  enough  in  the  grave."  He  raised  himself  a  bit  on  the  bed,  accepted 
a  pipe  from  Ebenezer,  and  after  sampling  it  with  pleasure,  commenced 
his  story: 

"  Twas  in  the  summer  of  1665,"  he  said,  "when  I  came  to  London  from 
Maryland  to  settle  some  business  with  the  merchant  Peter  Paggen  down 
by  Baynard's  Castle,  that  I  met  and  married  Anne  Bowyer  of  Bassing- 
shawe,  your  mother.  Twas  a  brief  wooing,  and  to  escape  the  great  Plague 
we  sailed  at  once  to  Maryland  on  the  brig  Redoubt,  cargoed  with  dry  goods 
and  hardware.  We  ran  into  storms  from  the  day  we  left  the  Lizard,  and 
headwinds  from  Flores  to  the  Capes;  fourteen  weeks  we  spent  a-crossing, 
and  when  at  last  we  stepped  ashore  at  St.  Mary's  City  in  December,  poor 
Anne  was  already  three  months  with  childl  Twas  an  unhappy  circumstance, 
for  you  must  know  that  every  newcomer  to  the  plantations  endures  a  period 
of  seasoning,  some  weeks  of  fitting  to  the  clime,  and  hardier  souls  than 
Anne  have  succumbed  to't.  She  was  a  little  woman,  and  delicate,  fitter  for 
the  sewing  parlor  than  the  'tween  decks:  we'd  been  not  a  week  at  St.  Mary's 
ere  a  cold  she'd  got  on  shipboard  turned  to  a  frightful  ague.  I  fetched  her 
o'er  the  Bay  to  Maiden  at  once,  and  the  room  I'd  built  for  her  bridal- 
chamber  became  her  sick-room—she  languished  there  for  the  balance  of 
her  term,  weak  and  feverish." 

Ebenezer  listened  with  considerable  emotion,  but  could  think  of  nothing 
to  say.  His  father  drew  again  on  his  pipe. 

"My  whole  house,"  he  continued,  "and  I  as  well,  looked  for  Anne  to 
miscarry,  or  else  deliver  the  child  still-born,  by  reason  of  her  health.  None- 
theless I  took  it  upon  myself  to  seek  a  wet  nurse  on  the  chance  it  might 
live,  for  I  knew  well  poor  Anne  could  ne'er  give  suck.  As't  happened, 
one  day  in  February  I  chanced  to  be  standing  on  the  wharf  where  Cambridge 
is  now,  bargaining  with  some  planters,  when  I  heard  a  great  splash  in  the 
Choptank  behind  me,  and  turned  around  in  time  to  see  a  young  lady's 
head  go  under  the  ice." 

"Mercy!" 

"I  was  a  passing  good  swimmer  in  those  days,  despite  my  arm,  and  as 
no  one  else  seemed  inclined  to  take  a  cold  bath  I  jumped  in  after  her, 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  45  ] 

periwig  and  all,  and  held  her  up  till  the  others  fetched  us  out.  But  think 
ye  I  got  so  much  as  a  thankee  for  my  pains?  The  wench  was  no  sooner 
herself  again  than  she  commenced  to  bewail  her  rescue  and  berate  me  for 
not  letting  her  drown.  This  surprised  the  lot  of  us  no  end,  inasmuch 
as  she  was  a  pretty  young  thing,  not  above  sixteen  or  seventeen  years  old. 

44  'How  is't  ye  wish  to  end  what  you've  scarce  begun?'  I  asked  her.  'Many's 
the  merry  tale  hath  a  bad  beginning.' 

"  'No  matter  the  cause  oft,'  she  replied.  'In  sooth  I've  little  to  thank 
ye  for;  in  saving  me  from  a  short  death  by  drowning,  you  but  condemn 
me  to  a  long  one  by  freezing,  or  a  longer  by  starving/ 

"I  was  about  to  press  her  farther  for  the  cause,  but  I  chanced  to  observe 
what  I'd  not  remarked  ere  then— that  though  her  face  and  arms  were  peaked 
and  thin,  her  belly  was  a-bloom  for  fair. 

"  'Ah,  I  see't  now,'  I  said.  'Belike  your  master  had  sent  ye  to  feel  of  the 
sot-weed,  whether  'twas  dry  enough  for  casking,  and  some  field-hand  rogered 
ye  in  the  curing-house?' 

"This  I  said  by  way  of  a  tease,  inasmuch  as  I  guessed  by  her  ragged  dress 
and  grimy  skin  she  was  a  servant  girl.  She  made  no  answer,  but  shook  her 
head  and  wept  e'en  harder. 

"  Welladay,  then,'  I  said  to  her,  'if  not  a  field-hand,  why,  the  master 
himself,  and  if  not  the  curing-house,  then  the  linen  closet  or  the  cowshed. 
Such  a  belly  as  thine  is  not  got  in  church,  I  swear!  And  now  the  planter's 
not  stayed  to  lay  by  his  harvest,  I'll  wager/ 

"After  some  farther  enquiry  the  girl  owned  she  had  indeed  been  supping 
ere  the  priest  said  grace,  as  young  folks  will;  but  only  once,  and  this  not 
by  force  at  the  hands  of  a  servingman,  but  rather  at  the  entreaty  of  a 
planter's  son  who'd  sworn  his  love  for  her.  Nor  was't  a  mere  silly  milkmaid's 
maidenhead  he  took,  i'faith,  for  she  was  Roxanne  Edouard,  the  orphan 
of  the  great  French  gentleman  Cecile  Edouard  of  Edouardine,  upriver  from 
Cooke's  Point.  She'd  been  reared  since  her  parents'  death  by  a  wealthy 
uncle  in  Church  Creek,  down-county,  who  was  so  concerned  for  her  noble 
blood  that  he  permitted  her  no  suitors  from  among  the  young  men  of 
the  place.  Twas  her  bad  luck  to  fall  in  love  with  the  eldest  son  of  her 
uncle's  neighbor,  another  planter,  and  he  in  turn  was  so  taken  with  her 
that  he  begged  her  to  marry  him.  She  was  a  dutiful  enough  child  not  to 
wed  a  young  man  against  the  wishes  of  her  guardian,  but  not  so  dutiful 
that  she  didn't  let  him  have  first  go  at  her  anyhow,  in  the  bilge  of  a  piragua 
out  on  the  river.  Afterwards  she  refused  to  see  him  farther,  and  the  young 
fool  was  so  distressed  as  to  give  up  his  patrimony  and  go  to  sea  a  common 


[46]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

sailor,  ne'er  to  be  heard  from  again.  Anon  she  found  herself  with  child, 
and  straightway  confessed  the  whole  matter  to  her  uncle,  who  turned  her 
off  the  place  at  once/7 

"How!"  Ebenezer  cried.  "Tis  a  nice  concern  he  bore  her,  indeed! 
Heav'n  protect  a  child  from  such  solicitude!  I  cannot  fathom  it!" 

"Nor  I"  said  Andrew,  "but  thus  it  happened,  or  so  I  heard  it.  What's 
more,  he  threatened  violence  to  any  who  took  her  in,  and  so  poor  Roxanne 
was  soon  brought  to  direst  straits.  She  tried  to  indent  herself  as  a  domestic, 
though  'twas  little  she  knew  of  work;  but  masters  had  small  inclination 
for  a  servant  who  would  herself  need  service  ere  many  months  passed.  Every- 
one knew  her  and  her  plight,,  and  many  a  man  who'd  been  turned  from 
her  uncle's  door  for  paying  her  the  merest  cordiality  before,  made  her  the 
filthiest  proposals  now  she  was  down  on  her  luck." 

"'Sheart!  Had  the  wretches  no  pity  for  her  state?" 

"Nay,  e'en  here  her  belly  undid  her,  for  so  far  from  discouraging,  it  seemed 
rather  the  more  to  enflame  'em,  the  plainer  it  showed.  Have  ye  not  your- 
self observed "  He  glanced  at  his  son.  "Nay,  no  matter.  In  short,  she 

saw  naught  ahead  save  harlotry  and  disgrace  on  the  one  hand,  or  rape 
and  starvation  on  the  other,  and  being  ashamed  of  the  former  and  afraid 
of  the  latter,  she  chose  a  third  in  lieu  of  either,  which  was,  to  leap  into  the 
Choptank." 

"And,  prithee,  what  did  she  after  you  saved  her?"  Ebenezer  asked. 

"Why,  what  else  but  strive  with  might  and  main  to  leap  in  again?"  An- 
drew replied.  "At  last  it  occurred  to  me  to  invite  her  to  join  my  house, 
since  she  looked  to  lighten  but  a  week  ere  poor  Anne;  I  agreed  to  keep 
her  well  and  provide  for  her  confinement  on  condition  she  suckle  our  babe, 
if  it  should  live,  with  her  own.  She  agreed,  we  drafted  the  indenture-papers, 
and  I  fetched  her  back  to  Maiden. 

"Now  your  mother,  God  rest  her,  grew  worse  all  the  time.  She  was  a 
wondrous  Protestant,  much  giv'n  to  Bible-reading,  and  whene'er  I  showed 
her  pity  she  was  wont  to  reply,  Tear  not,  husband:  the  Lord  will  help  us/  " 

"Bless  her!"  said  Ebenezer. 

"'Twas  her  conceit,"  Andrew  went  on,  "to  regard  her  several  infirm- 
ities as  an  enemy  host,  and  late  and  soon  she  was  after  me  to  read  her  from 
the  Old  Testament  of  God's  military  intercessions  in  behalf  of  the 
Israelites.  Hence  when  her  ague  passed  off  without  killing  her  (albeit  it  left 
her  pitifully  weak),  she  was  proud  as  any  general  who  sees  a  flank  of  the 
enemy  turned,  and  she  declared  like  the  prophet  Samuel  upon  the  rout 
of  the  Philistines,  Thus  far  hath  the  Lord  helped  us!'  At  length  her  time 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [47] 

arrived,  and  after  frightful  labor  she  brought  forth  Anna,  eight  pounds 
and  a  half.  She  named  her  after  her  own  mother,  and  said  again  to  me, 
'Thus  far  hath  the  good  Lord  helped  us!'  Not  a  soul  then  but  thought 
her  trials  were  done,  and  even  I,  who  was  no  Catholic  saint  nor  Protestant 
either,  thanked  God  for  her  delivery.  But  not  an  hour  after  bearing  Anna 
her  travail  commenced  again,  and  after  much  clamor  and  hollowing  she 
brought  you  to  light,  nigh  as  big  as  your  sister.  Seventeen  pounds  of  child 
she  dropped  in  all,  from  a— well,  from  a  frame  so  delicate,  simple  flatulence 
gave  her  pain.  'Twas  no  wonder  she  passed  into  a  coma  ere  your  shoulders 
cleared,  and  ne'er  recovered  from  it!  That  same  night  she  died,  and  the 
weather  being  unseasonably  hot  for  May,  I  fetched  her  down  next  day  and 
buried  her  'neath  a  great  loblolly  pine  tree  on  the  Bay  side  of  the  point, 
where  she  lies  yet." 

"God  help  me!"  Ebenezer  wept.  "I  am  not  worthy  oft!" 

"'Twould  be  dishonest  not  to  own/'  Andrew  said,  "that  such  exactly 
were  my  sentiments  at  the  time,  God  forgive  me.  E'en  as  the  burial  service 
was  read  I  could  hear  the  twain  of  you  a-squalling  up  in  the  house,  and 
when  I  placed  a  boulder  atop  the  sandy  grave,  against  the  time  our  mason 
could  letter  a  headstone,  it  recalled  to  me  those  verses  in  the  Book  of 
Samuel  where  God  smites  the  Philistines  and  Samuel  dedicates  the  token 
of  His  aid— the  stone  the  Hebrews  called  Ebenezer.  Twas  then,  boy,  in 
bitterness  and  sacrilege,  I  gave  ye  that  name:  I  baptized  ye  myself,  ere 
Roxanne  could  stay  me,  with  the  dregs  of  a  flagon  of  perry,  and  declared 
to  the  company  of  Maiden,  'Thus  far  hath  the  Lord  helped  us!' " 

"Ah,  dear  Father,  berate  thyself  no  more  for't,"  Ebenezer  begged— 
though  Andrew  had  displayed  no  particular  emotion.  "I  understand  and 
forgive!" 

Andrew  tapped  out  his  pipe  in  a  spittoon  beside  the  bed  and,  after 
resting  a  moment,  resumed  his  story. 

"In  any  case/'  he  said  calmly,  ''you  and  your  sister  ne'er  wanted  mothering. 
The  girl  Roxanne  had  borne  her  own  child,  a  daughter,  eight  days  before, 
but  the  babe  had  strangled  ere  its  first  cry  with  the  navel-cord  round  its  neck; 
so  that  maugre  the  fact  there  were  two  of  ye,  instead  of  one,  she  had  no 
more  mouths  to  feed  than  breasts  to  feed  'em  with,  and  there  was  milk 
aplenty  for  all.  She  was  e'er  a  healthy  wench  once  on  her  feed  again— 
ruddy-faced,  full-breasted,  and  spirited  as  a  dairymaid  for  all  her  fine  blood. 
For  the  four  years  of  her  indenture  she  raised  ye  as  her  own.  Mrs.  Twigg 
declared  no  good  could  come  of  mixing  French  pap  and  English  blood, 
but  ye  grew  fat  and  merry  as  any  babes  in  Dorset. 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"In  1670,  the  last  year  of  Roxanne's  service,  I  resolved  to  leave  Maiden 
for  London.  I  was  weary  of  factoring,  for  one  thing;  I  saw  no  chance  to  im- 
prove my  tobacco-holdings,  for  another;  and  though  Cooke's  Point  is  of  all 
places  on  earth  dearest  to  my  heart,  and  my  first  and  largest  property,  yet 
'twas  e'er  a  heartache  to  live  a  widower  in  the  house  Fd  raised  for  my 
bride.  Moreover,  I  must  own  my  position  with  regard  to  Roxanne  had  got 
somewhat  delicate  since  poor  Anne's  death.  That  she  thought  no  ill  o'  me 
I  took  for  granted,  for  she  was  bound  to  me  by  gratitude  as  well  as  legal 
instrument.  I  in  turn  was  more  than  a  little  obliged  to  her,  in  that  she'd 
not  only  suckled  twice  as  many  of  my  children  as  she  was  legally  bound 
to,  but  done  it  with  a  mother's  love,  and  had  taken  on  most  of  Mrs,  Twigg's 
duties  as  governess  as  well,  out  of  pure  affection  for  ye.  I've  said  already 
she  was  an  uncommon  pretty  piece,  and  I  at  that  time  was  a  strapping 
wight  of  thirty-three,  prosperous  and  it  may  be  not  unhandsome,  who  by 
reason  of  poor  Anne's  affliction  and  death  had  perforce  slept  alone  and 
uncomf orted  since  my  arrival  in  the  province.  Hence,  'tis  not  surprising 
some  small-minded  busybodies  should  have  it  Roxanne  was  filling  Anne's 
place  in  the  bedchamber  as  well  as  the  nursery— more  especially  since  they 
themselves  had  lechered  after  her.  Tis  e'er  the  way  of  men,  I've  learned, 
to  credit  others  with  the  sins  themselves  want  either  the  courage  or  the 
means  to  commit." 

"But  marry,  what  vicious  gossip!" 

"Aye/'  Andrew  said,  "but  As  -well  be  a  sinner  as  known  for  one.  What  a 
man  is  in  the  eyes  of  God  means  little  to  the  world  of  men.  All  things 
considered,  I  thought  it  well  to  release  her;  yet  I  could  by  no  means  send 
her  back  to  death  or  harlotry,  and  so  'twas  a  pleasant  surprise  when,  one 
day  on  that  selfsame  landing  where  I'd  met  her,  I  was  approached  by  a 
man  who  introduced  himself  as  Roxanne's  uncle,  and  asked  most  solicit- 
ously after  his  niece." 

"I  pray  the  fellow  had  tempered  his  wrath  by  then." 

"He  had,"  Andrew  said,  "to  the  point  where  the  very  thought  of  his 
former  unkindness  started  him  to  tears,  and  when  I  told  him  of  Roxanne's 
subsequent  straits  and  of  the  death  of  her  infant,  he  near  tore  his  hair  in 
remorse.  There  was  no  end  to  his  expressions  of  gratitude  for  my  having 
saved  and  cared  for  her;  he  declared  himself  eager  to  make  amends  for  his 
severity,  and  entreated  me  to  prevail  upon  Roxanne  to  return  to  his  house. 
I  reminded  him  that  it  was  his  unreasonableness  in  the  matter  of  suitors 
for  his  niece  that  had  driven  her  to  her  former  disgrace,  and  he  replied 
that  so  far  from  persisting  in  that  unreasonableness,  he  had  in  mind  at 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [49] 

that  very  moment  an  excellent  match  for  her  with  a  wealthy  fellow  of 
the  neighborhood,  who  had  e'er  looked  kindly  upon  her. 

"You  can  imagine  Roxanne's  surprise  when  she  learned  of  all  this.  She 
was  pleased  to  hear  of  her  uncle's  change  of  heart,  and  yet  'twas  like  giving 
up  two  of  her  own  to  let  you  and  Anna  go.  She  wept  and  wailed,  as  women 
will  at  any  great  change  in  their  circumstances,  and  pleaded  with  me  to 
take  her  to  London,  but  it  seemed  to  me  'twould  be  a  disservice  to  the 
twain  of  us  to  maintain  any  longer  our  connection,  more  especially  since 
her  uncle  had  a  substantial  match  arranged  for  her.  Thus  was  it  that  on 
the  same  day  when  I  gave  Roxanne  my  half  of  her  indenture-bond,  sig- 
nifying the  end  of  her  service,  her  uncle  drove  out  to  Maiden  in  a  buck- 
board  and  fetched  her  away,  and  that  was  that.  Not  a  fortnight  later  I  too 
made  my  last  farewells  to  Maiden,  and  to  the  grave  of  your  mother,  and 
left  Maryland  forever.  Think  not  'twas  an  easy  matter  to  go:  'tis  a  rarity 
indeed  when  Life  presents  ye  with  a  clean  choice,  i'faith!  Tis  more  her  wont 
to  arrange  things  in  such  fashion  that  de'il  the  course  ye  choose,  'twill  give 
ye  pain.  Eheu!  Fve  rambled  and  digressed  till  I'm  near  out  of  wind!  Here 
now/'  he  said,  handing  Ebenezer  the  document  he'd  been  toying  and 
gesturing  with  throughout  his  narration.  "Read  this  whilst  I  catch  my 
breath." 

Ebenezer  took  the  paper,  curious  and  uneasy,  and  read,  among  other 
things: 

Andrew  Cooke  of  the  parish  of  St.  Giles  in  the  Fields  in  the  County  of  Middle- 
sex, Gentleman  doe  make  this  my  last  will  and  Testament  as  followeth  ...  In* 
primus  I  give  to  my  Son  Ebenezer  Cooke  and  Anna  Cooke  my  daughter  all  my 
Right  and  Title  of  and  to  ...  all  my  Land  called  Cookes  Poynt  lyng  at  the 
mouth  of  great  Choptank  River  lyng  in  Dorchester  County  in  Maryland  .  .  . 
share  and  share  alike.  .  .  , 

"Dost  see't,  boy?"  Andrew  demanded.  "Dost  grasp  it,  damn  ye?  Tis 
Cooke's  Point;  'tis  my  dear  sweet  Maiden,  where  the  twain  of  ye  saw  day- 
light and  your  mother  lies  yet!  There's  this  house  too,  and  the  place  on 
Plumtree  Street,  but  Cooke's  Point's  where  my  heart  lies;  Maiden's  my 
darling,  that  I  raised  out  o'  the  wilderness.  'Tis  your  legacy,  Eben,  your 
inheritance;  'tis  your  personal  piece  o'  the  great  wide  world  to  husband 
and  to  fructify— and  a  noble  legacy  'tis,  b'm'faith!  'Share  and  share  alike/ 
but  the  job  of  managing  an  estate  is  man's  work,  not  woman's.  Twas  for 
this  I  got,  reared,  and  schooled  ye,,  and  'tis  for  this  ye  must  work  and  gird 
yourself,  damn  ye,  to  make  ye  worthy  oft,  and  play  no  more  at  shiU  I, 
shall  II" 


[  rO  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

Ebenezer  blushed.  "I  am  sensible  I  have  been  remiss,  and  I've  naught 
to  say  in  my  defense,  save  that  'twas  not  stupidity  undid  me  at  Cambridge, 
but  feckless  indirection.  Would  God  I'd  had  dear  Henry  Burlingame  to 
steer  and  prod  me!" 

"Burlingamer  cried  Andrew.  "Fogh!  He  came  no  nearer  the  baccalau- 
reate than  yourself.  Nay,  'twas  your  dear  rascal  Burlingame  ruined  ye, 
methinks,  in  not  teaching  ye  how  to  work."  He  waved  the  draft  of  his 
will  "Think  ye  your  Burlingame  will  ever  have  a  Maiden  to  bequeath? 
Fie  on  that  scoundrel!  Mention  his  name  no  more  to  me,  an't  please  ye, 
lest  I  suffer  a  stroke!" 

"I  am  sorry/'  said  Ebenezer,  who  had  mentioned  Burlingame's  name 
intentionally  to  observe  his  father's  reaction:  he  now  concluded  it  would 
be  impolitic  to  describe  in  any  detail  his  sojourn  in  London.  "I  know  no 
way  to  show  you  how  your  magnanimity  shames  me  for  my  failure.  Send 
me  back  to  Cambridge,  if  you  will,  and  I  swear  on  oath  I'll  not  repeat  my 
former  errors." 

Andrew  reddened.  "Cambridge  my  arse!  Tis  Maryland  shall  be  your 
Cambridge,  and  a  field  of  sot-weed  your  library!  And  for  diploma,  if  ye 
apply  yourself,  haply  you'll  frame  a  bill  of  exchange  for  ten  thousandweight 
of  Oronoco!" 

"You  mean  to  send  me  to  Maryland,  then?"  Ebenezer  asked  uncom- 
fortably. 

"Aye,  to  till  the  ground  that  spawned  ye,  but  thou'rt  by  no  means  fit 
for't  yet;  I  fear  the  University  hath  so  addled  and  debilitated  ye,  you've 
not  the  head  to  manage  an  estate  nor  the  back  to  till  it.  Twill  take  some 
doing  to  sweat  Burlingame  and  the  college  out  o'  ye,  but  A  man  must  vtdk 
ere  he  runs.  What  ye  want's  but  an  honest  apprenticeship:  I  mean  to  send 
ye  forthwith  to  London,  to  clerk  for  the  merchant  Peter  Paggen.  Study  the 
ins  and  outs  of  the  plantation  trade,  as  did  I  and  my  father  before  me, 
and  I  swear  'twill  stand  ye  in  better  stead  than  aught  ye  heard  at  Cam- 
bridge, when  time  comes  for  ye  to  take  your  place  at  Maiden!" 

Now  this  course  of  life  was  not  one  that  Ebenezer  would  have  chosen 
for  himself— but  then  neither  was  any  other,  and  he  had  no  grounds  for 
refusing  this  or  any  proposal,  for  when  he  looked  within  himself  he  found 
such  a  motley  host  of  opinions,  of  all  ilks  and  stamps,  anarchic  and  shifting, 
that  to  mark  the  strongest  was  a  thing  beyond  him.  Moreover,  when  he 
reflected  upon  it,  he  was  not  blind  to  a  certain  attractiveness  about  the 
planter's  life  as  he  envisioned  it:  he  could  see  himself  inspecting  the  labor 
of  the  fields  from  the  back  of  his  favorite  riding-horse;  smoking  the  tobacco 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [51] 

that  made  him  wealthy;  drinking  quince  or  perry  from  his  own  distillery 
with  a  few  refined  companions;  whiling  away  the  idle  evenings  on  the 
gallery  of  his  manor-house,  remarking  the  mallards  out  on  the  river,  and 
perhaps  composing  occasional  verses  of  ease  and  dignity.  He  was,  alas,  not 
blind  to  the  attractiveness  of  any  kind  of  life.  And  more  immediately,  the 
prospect  of  returning  to  London  with  a  clear  conscience  pleased  him. 

Therefore  he  said,  halfheartedly  but  not  cheerlessly,  "Just:  as  you  wish, 
Father.  I  shall  try  to  do  well." 

"Why,  thank  Heav'n  for  that!"  Andrew  declared,  and  even  contrived  a 
thin  smile.  "  'Thus  far  hath  the  Lord  helped  usl'  Leave  me  now  for  the 
nonce,  ere  I  collapse  from  very  weariness." 

Andrew  settled  back  in  bed,  turned  his  face  to  the  wall,  and  said  no  more. 


5:    EBENEZER    COMMENCES    HIS    SECOND    SOJOURN 
IN   LONDON,   AND    FARES    UNSPECTACULARLY 


BECAUSE  OF  THE  GREAT  UNREST  IN  THE  NATION  AT  THIS  TIME,  OCCASIONED 

by  the  conflict  between  James  II  and  William  of  Orange,  Ebenezer,  at  his 
father's  advice,  did  not  return  toiondon  until  the  winter  of  1688,  by  which 
time  William  and  Mary  were  securely  established  on  the  throne  of  Eng- 
land. The  idle  year  at  St.  Giles  was,  although  he  had  no  way  of  realizing 
it  at  the  time,  perhaps  Ebenezer's  nearest  approach  to  happiness.  He  had 
nothing  at  all  to  do  except  read,  walk  about  the  countryside  or  London- 
without-the-walls,  and  talk  at  length  with  his  sister.  Although  he  could  not 
look  to  his  future  with  enthusiasm,  at  least  he  had  not  to  bear  the  respon- 
sibility of  having  chosen  it  himself.  In  the  spring  and  summer,  when  the 
weather  turned  fine,  he  grew  too  restless  even  to  read.  He  felt  full  to  burst- 
ing with  ill-defined  potentialities.  Often  he  would  sit  a  whole  morning  in 
the  shade  of  a  pear  tree  behind  the  house  playing  airs  on  the  tenor  re- 
corder, whose  secrets  he  had  learned  from  Burlingame.  He  cared  for  no 
sports;  he  wished  not  even  to  see  anyone,  except  Anna.  The  air,  drenched 
with  sun  and  clover,  made  him  volatile.  On  several  occasions  he  was  so 
full  of  feeling  as  to  fear  he'd  swoon  if  he  could  not  empty  himself  of  it. 
But  often  as  he  tried  to  set  down  verses,  he  could  not  begin:  his  fancy 
would  not  settle  on  stances  and  conceits.  He  spent  the  warm  months  in 


[  52  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

a  kind  of  nervous  exaltation  which,  while  more  upsetting  than  pleasurable 
at  the  moment,  left  a  sweet  taste  in  his  mouth  at  day's  end.  In  the  evenings, 
often  as  not,  he  would  watch  meteors  slide  down  the  sky  till  he  grew  dizzy. 

And  though  again  he  could  not  know  it  at  the  time,  this  idle  season 
afforded  him  what  was  to  be  his  last  real  communion  with  his  sister  for 
many  a  year.  Even  so,  it  was  for  the  most  part  inarticulate;  somewhere  they'd 
lost  the  knack  of  talking  closely  to  each  other.  Of  the  things  doubtless  most 
important  to  each  they  spoke  not  at  all— Ebenezer's  failure  at  Cambridge 
and  his  impending  journey;  Anna's  uncertain  past  connection  with 
Burlingame  and  her  present  isolation  from  and  lack  of  interest  in  suitors 
of  any  sort.  But  they  walked  together  a  great  deal,  and  one  hot  forenoon 
in  August,  as  they  sat  under  a  sycamore  near  a  rocky  little  stream-branch 
that  ran  through  the  property,  Anna  clutched  his  right  arm,  pressed  her 
forehead  to  it,  and  wept  for  several  minutes.  Ebenezer  comforted  her  as 
best  he  could  without  inquiring  the  reason  for  her  tears:  he  assumed  it  was 
some  feeling  about  their  maturity  that  grieved  her.  At  this  time,  in  their 
twenty-second  year  of  life,  Anna  looked  somewhat  older*  than  her  brother, 

Andrew,  once  his  son's  affairs  seemed  secure,  grew  gradually  stronger, 
and  by  autumn  was  apparently  in  excellent  health  again,  though  for  the 
rest  of  his  life  he  looked  older  than  his  years.  In  early  November  he  de- 
clared the  political  situation  stable  enough  to  warrant  the  boy's  departure; 
a  week  later  Ebenezer  bade  the  household  good-bye  and  set  out  for 
London. 

The  first  thing  he  did,  after  finding  lodging  for  himself  in  a  Pudding 
Lane  boardinghouse,  was  visit  Burlingame's  address,  to  see  how  his  old 
friend  fared.  But  to  his  surprise  he  found  the  premises  occupied  by  new 
tenants—a  draper  and  his  family— and  none  of  the  neighbors  knew  any- 
thing of  Henry's  whereabouts.  That  evening,  therefore,  when  he'd  seen  to 
the  arrangement  of  his  belongings,  he  went  to  Locket's,  hoping  to  find 
there,  if  not  Burlingame  himself,  at  least  some  of  their  mutual  acquaintances 
who  might  have  news  of  him. 

He  found  three  of  the  group  to  which  Burlingame  had  introduced  him. 
One  was  Ben  Oliver,  a  great  fat  poet  with  beady  eyes  and  black  curly 
hair,  arrogant  and  energetic,  a  very  rakehell,  who  some  said  was  a  Jew. 
Another  was  Tom  Trent,  a  short  sallow  boy  from  Christ's  College,  also  a 
poet:  he'd  been  sent  to  prepare  for  the  ministry,  but  had  so  loathed  the 
idea  that  he  caught  French  pox  from  a  doxy  he  kept  in  his  quarters  by 
way  of  contempt  for  his  calling,  and  was  finally  dismissed  upon  his  spread- 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  53  ] 

ing  the  contagion  to  his  tutor  and  at  least  two  professors  who  had  befriended 
him.  Since  then  he'd  come  to  take  a  great  interest  in  religion:  he  liked  no 
poets  save  Dante  and  Milton,  maintained  a  virtual  celibacy,  and  in  his 
cups  was  wont  to  shout  verses  of  Scripture  at  the  company  in  his  great  bass 
voice.  The  third,  Dick  Merriweather,  was  despite  his  surname  a  gloojny 
pessimist,  ever  contemplating  suicide,  who  wrote  only  elegiac  verse  on  the 
subject  of  his  own  demise.  Whatever  the  disparity  in  their  temperaments, 
however,  the  three  men  lived  in  the  same  house  and  were  almost  always 
found  together. 

"I'God,  'tis  Eben  Cooke  the  scholar!"  cried  Ben  upon  seeing  him.  "Have 
a  bottle  with  us,  fellow,  and  teach  us  the  Truth!" 
"We  thought  you  dead,"  said  Dick. 

Tom  Trent  said  nothing:  he  was  unmoved  by  greetings  and  farewells. 
Ebenezer  returned  their  greetings,  drank  a  drink  with  them,  and,  after 
explaining  his  return  to  London,  inquired  after  Burlingame. 

"We've  seen  none  of  him  for  a  year,"  Ben  said.  "He  left  us  shortly  after 
you  did,  and  I'd  have  said  the  twain  of  you  were  off  together  on  some 
lark." 

"I  recall  hearing  he'd  gone  to  sea  again,"  Dick  Merriweather  said.  "Belike 
he's  at  the  bottom  oft  ere  now,  or  swimming  in  the  belly  of  a  whale." 

"Stay,"  said  Ben.  "Now  I  think  on't,  didn't  I  have  it  from  Tom  here 
'twas  Trinity  College  Henry  went  back  to,  to  earn  his  baccalaureate?" 

"  'Twas  what  I  had  from  Joan  Toast,  that  had  it  from  Henry  the  last 

night  ere  he  left,"  Tom  said  indifferently.  "I'll  own  I  pay  scant  heed  to 

gossip  of  goings  and  comings,  and  'tis  not  impossible  I  misheard  her." 

"Who  is  this  Joan  Toast  then,  pray,  and  where  might  I  find  her?"  asked 

Ebenezer. 

"No  need  to  seek  her'9  Ben  laughed;  "she's  but  a  merry  whore  of  the 
place,  and  you  may  ask  what  you  will  of  her  anon,  when  she  comes  in  to 
find  a  bedfellow." 

Ebenezer  waited  until  the  girl  arrived,  and  learned  only  that  Burlingame 
had  spoken  of  his  intention  to  ransack  the  libraries  of  Cambridge  for  a 
fortnight— for  what  purpose  she  did  not  know,  nor  did  any  amount  of  in- 
quiry around  the  winehouse  shed  more  light  on  his  intentions  or  present 
whereabouts.  During  the  next  week  Ebenezer  lost  no  opportunity  to  ask 
after  his  friend,  but  when  it  became  clear  that  no  clues  were  to  be  found, 
he  reluctantly  abandoned  his  efforts,  wrote  Anna  a  distressed  note  inform- 
ing her  of  the  news,  and  in  the  following  months  and  years  came  almost  to 


[  tA  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

forget  Henry's  existence— though  to  be  sure,  he  felt  the  loss  acutely  when- 
ever the  name  occurred  to  him. 

Meanwhile,  he  presented  himself  at  the  establishment  of  the  merchant 
Peter  Paggen,  and,  on  producing  letters  from  his  father,  was  set  to  totting 
up  accounts  with  the  junior  apprentices  at  a  little  desk  among  many  others 
in  a  large  room.  It  was  understood  that  if  he  applied  himself  diligently  and 
showed  some  ability  in  his  work,  he  would  be  promoted  after  a  week  or  so 
to  a  post  from  which  he  could  observe  to  better  advantage  the  workings  of 
the  plantation  trade  (Mr.  Paggen  had  extensive  dealings  in  Maryland  and 
Virginia).  Unfortunately,  this  promotion  was  never  granted  him.  For  one 
thing,  no  matter  how  hard  he  tried,  Ebenezer  could  not  concentrate  his 
attention  on  the  accounts.  He  would  begin  to  add  a  column  of  totally 
meaningless  figures  and  realize  five  minutes  later  that  he'd  been  staring  at 
a  wen  on  the  neck  of  the  boy  in  front  of  him,  or  rehearsing  in  his  mind  a 
real  or  imaginary  conversation  between  himself  and  Burlingame,  or  draw- 
ing mazes  on  a  bit  of  scratch-paper.  For  the  same  reason,  though  he  had 
by  no  means  the  troublemaker's  temperament,  his  untamable  fancy  more 
than  once  led  him  to  be  charged  with  irresponsibility:  one  day,  for  example, 
scarcely  conscious  of  what  he  was  about,  he  involved  himself  entirely  in  a 
game  with  a  small  black  ant  that  had  wandered  across  the  page.  The  rule  of 
the  game,  which  he  invested  with  the  inexorability  of  natural  law,  was  that 
every  time  the  ant  trod  unwittingly  upon  a  3  or  a  9,  Ebenezer  would  close 
his  eyes  and  tap  the  page  thrice,  smartly  and  randomly,  with  the  point  of 
his  quill.  Although  his  role  of  Deus  civi  NatUTa  precluded  mercy,  his  senti- 
ments were  unequivocally  on  the  side  of  the  ant:  with  an  effort  that  brought 
sweat  to  his  brow  he  tried  by  force  of  thought  to  steer  the  hapless  creature 
from  dangerous  numbers;  he  opened  his  eyes  after  every  series  of  taps,  half 
afraid  to  look  at  the  paper.  The  game  was  profoundly  exciting.  After  some 
ten  or  fifteen  minutes  the  ant  had  the  bad  luck  to  be  struck  by  a  drop  of 
ink  not  a  half  inch  from  the  9  that  had  triggered  the  bombardment:  flailing 
blindly,  he  inked  a  tiny  trail  straight  back  to  the  9  again,  and  this  time, 
after  being  bracketed  by  the  first  two  taps,  he  was  smitten  squarely  with 
the  third.  Ebenezer  looked  down  to  find  him  curled  and  dying  in  the  loop 
of  the  digit.  Tears  of  compassion,  tempered  with  vast  understanding  and 
acceptance  of  the  totality  of  life  and  the  unalterable  laws  of  the  universe, 
welled  in  his  eyes;  his  genital  stiffened.  At  last  the  ant  expired.  Suddenly 
self-conscious,  Ebenezer  glanced  around  to  see  whether  anyone  had  no- 
ticed him,  and  everyone  in  the  room  laughed  aloud;  they  had  witnessed 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  55  ] 

the  whole  performance.  From  that  day  on  they  regarded  him  as  more  or 
less  mad  instead  of  simply  odd;  luckily  for  Ebenezer,  however,  they  be- 
lieved him  to  have  some  special  connection  with  their  employer  Mr. 
Paggen,  and  so  made  little  of  the  incident  except  among  themselves. 

But  it  would  not  be  fair  to  suggest  that  Ebenezer  was  entirely  responsi- 
ble for  his  impasse.  There  were  a  few  occasions  during  the  first  year  when 
he  managed  to  do  his  work  satisfactorily,  even  intelligently,  for  several 
weeks  running,  and  yet  no  mention  was  made  of  transferring  him  to  the 
promised  post.  Only  once  did  he  muster  courage  enough  to  inquire  about 
it:  Mr.  Paggen  made  him  a  vague  reply  which  he  accepted  eagerly,  in  order 
to  terminate  the  interview,  and  never  spoke  of  it  again.  Actually,  except 
for  infrequent  twinges  of  conscience,  Ebenezer  was  quite  content  to 
languish  among  the  junior  apprentices:  he  had  learned  the  job  and  was 
frightened  at  the  prospect  of  learning  another.  Moreover,  he  found  the 
city  suited  to  his  languor;  his  free  hours  he  spent  with  his  friends  in  the 
coffee-houses,  taverns,  or  theaters.  Now  and  again  he  devoted  a  Sunday, 
without  much  success,  to  his  writing-desk.  And  in  general  he  came  quite  to 
forget  what  it  was  he  was  supposed  to  be  doing  in  London. 

It  was  withal  a  curious  time  in  his  life.  If  not  actually  satisfying,  the 
routine  was  at  any  rate  in  no  way  unpleasant,  and  Ebenezer  floated  along 
in  it  like  a  fitful  sleeper  in  a  warm  wash  of  dreams.  Often,  chameleonlike, 
he  was  but  a  reflection  of  his  situation:  were  his  companions  boasting  the 
tenuousness  of  their  positions  he  might  declare,  in  a  burst  of  camaraderie^ 
"Shpuld  old  Andy  discover  my  situation,  'twould  be  off  to  Maryland  with 
me,  sirs,  and  no  mistake!"  As  often  he  went  out  of  his  way  to  differ  with 
them,  and  half-yearned  for  the  bracing  life  of  the  plantations.  Still  other 
times  he'd  sit  like  a  stuffed  stork  all  the  afternoon  without  a  word.  So,  one 
day  cocksure,  one  day  timorous;  one  day  fearless,  one  craven;  now  the  natty 
courtier,  now  the  rumpled  poet— and  devil  the  hue  that  momently  colored 
him,  he'd  look  a-fidget  at  the  rest  of  the  spectrum.  For  what's  red  to  a 
rainbow? 

All  of  which  is  to  say,  if  you  wish,  that  insofar  as  to  be  is  to  be  in  essence 
the  same  Johnny-come-Friday  that  was  John  o'  Thursday,  why,  this 
Ebenezer  Cooke  was  no  man  at  all.  As  for  Andrew,  he  must  have  been 
incurious  about  his  boy's  life  in  London,  or  else  believed  that  A  good  post 
is  worth  a  long  wait.  The  idyl  lasted  not  for  one,  but  for  five  or  six  years, 
or  until  1694— in  the  March  of  which,  when  a  disastrous  wager  brought  it 
to  a  sudden  end,  our  story  begins. 


6:    THE  MOMENTOUS  WAGER  BETWEEN  EBENEZER 
AND  BEN  OLIVER,  AND  ITS  UNCOMMON  RESULT 


PIMP  IN  EBENEZER'S  CIRCLE  WAS  ONE  WIRY,  RED-HAIRED,  BEFRECKLED 
ex-Dubliner  named  John  McEvoy,  twenty-one  years  old  and  devoid  of 
school  education,  as  long  in  energy  and  resourcefulness  as  short  in  money 
and  stature,  who  spent  his  days  abed,  his  evenings  pimping  for  his  privileged 
companions,  and  the  greater  part  of  his  nights  composing  airs  for  the  lute 
and  flute,  and  who  from  the  world  of  things  that  men  have  valued  prized 
none  but  three:  his  mistress  Joan  Toast  (who,  whore  as  well,  was  both  his 
love  and  his  living),  his  music,  and  his  liberty.  No  one-crown  frisker  Joan, 
but  a  two-guinea  hen  well  worth  the  gold  to  bed  her,  as  knew  every  man 
among  them  but  Ebenezer;  she  loved  her  John  for  all  he  was  her  pimp, 
and  he  her  truly  too  for  all  she  was  his  whore— for  no  man  "was  ever  fust 
a.  pimp,  nor  any  woman  merely  whore.  They  seemed,  in  fact,  a  devoted 
couple,  and  jealous. 

All  spirit,  imagination,,  and  brave  brown  eyes,  small-framed,  large- 
breasted,  and  tight-skinned  (though  truly  somewhat  coarse-pored,  and 
stringy  in  the  hair,  and  with  teeth  none  of  the  best),  this  Joan  Toast  was 
his  for  the  night  who'd  two  guineas  to  take  her  for,  and  indignify  her  as 
he  would,  she'd  give  him  his  gold's  worth  and  more,  for  she  took  that 
pleasure  in  her  work  as  were  she  the  buyer  and  he  the  vendor;  but  come 
morning  she  was  cold  as  a  fish  and  back  to  her  Johnny  McEvoy,  and  should 
her  lover  of  the  night  past  so  much  as  wink  eye  at  her  in  the  light  of  day, 
there  was  no  more  Joan  Toast  for  him  at  any  price. 

Ebenezer  had  of  course  observed  her  for  some  years  as  she  and  his  com- 
panions came  and  went  in  their  harlotry,  and  from  the  talk  in  the  coffee- 
house had  got  to  know  about  her  in  great  detail  at  second  hand  a  number 
of  things  that  his  personal  disorganization  precluded  learning  at  first.  When 
m  manly  moments  he  thought  of  her  at  all  it  was  merely  as  a  tart  whom, 
should  he  one  day  find  himself  single-minded  enough,  it  might  be  sweet 
to  hire  to  initiate  him  at  long  last  into  the  mysteries.  For  it  happened  that, 
though  near  thirty,  Ebenezer  was  yet  a  virgin,  and  this  for  the  reason  ex- 
plained in  the  previous  chapters,  that  he  was  no  person  at  all:  he  could 
picture  any  kind  of  man  taking  a  woman-the  bold  as  well  as  the  bashful, 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  57  ] 

the  clean  green  boy  and  the  dottermg  gray  lecher— and  work  out  in  his 
mind  the  speeches  appropriate  to  each  under  any  of  several  sorts  of  cir- 
cumstances. But  because  he  felt  himself  no  more  one  of  these  than  another 
and  admired  all,  when  a  situation  presented  itself  he  could  never  choose 
one  role  to  play  over  all  the  rest  he  knew,  and  so  always  ended  up  either 
turning  down  the  chance  or,  what  was  more  usually  the  case,  retreating 
gracelessly  and  in  confusion,  if  not  always  embarrassment.  Generally,  there- 
fore, women  did  not  give  him  a  second  glance,  not  because  he  was  uncomely 
—he  had  marked  well  that  some  of  the  greatest  seducers  have  the  faces  of 
goats  and  the  manner  of  lizards— but  because,  a  woman  having  taken  in 
his  ungainly  physique,  there  remained  no  other  thing  for  her  to  notice. 

Indeed  he  might  have  gone  virgin  to  his  grave— for  there  are  urgencies 
that  will  be  heeded  if  not  one  way  then  perforce  another,  and  that  same 
knuckly  hand  that  penned  him  his  couplets  took  no  wooing  to  make  his 
quick  mistress— but  on  this  March  night  in  1694  he  was  noticed  by  Joan 
Toast,  in  the  following  manner:  the  gallants  were  sitting  in  a  ring  at 
Locket's,,  as  was  their  custom,  drinking  wine,  gossiping,  and  boasting  their 
conquests,  both  of  the  muse  and  of  lesser  wenches.  There  were  Dick 
Merriweather,  Tom  Trent,  and  Ben  Oliver  already  well  wined,  Johnny 
McEvoy  and  Joan  Toast  out  for  a  customer,  and  Ebenezer  incom* 
municado. 

"Heigh-ho!"  sighed  Dick  at  a  lull  in  their  talk.  "  Twere  a  world  one 
could  live  in  did  wealth  follow  wit,  for  gold's  the  best  bait  to  snare  sweet 
conies  with,  and  then  we  poets  were  fearsome  trappers  all!" 

"No  need  gold,"  replied  Ben,  "did  God  but  give  women  half  an  eye  for 
their  interests.  What  makes  your  good  lover,  if  not  fire  and  fancy?  And  for 
whom  if  not  us  poets  are  fire  and  fancy  the  very  stock  in  trade?  From 
which  'tis  clear,  that  of  all  men  the  poet  is  most  to  be  desired  as  a  lover:  if 
his  mistress  have  beauty,  his  is  the  eye  will  most  be  gladdened  by't;  if  she 
have  it  not,  his  is  the  imagination  that  best  can  mask  its  lack.  If  she  displease 
him,  and  he  slough  her  off  shortly*  she  hath  at  least  had  for  a  time  the  best 
that  woman  can  get;  if  she  please  him,  he  will  haply  fix  her  beauty  for 
good  and  all  in  verse,  where  neither  age  nor  pox  can  spoil  it.  And  as  poets 
as  a  class  are  to  be  desired  in  this  respect  over  other  sorts  of  fellows,  so 
should  the  best  poet  prove  the  best  lover;  were  women  wise  to  their  in- 
terests they'd  make  seeking  him  out  their  life-work,  and  finding  him  would 
straight  lay  their  favors  a-quiver  in  his  lap— nay,  upon  his  very  writing-desk— 
and  beg  him  to  look  on  'em  kindly!" 

"Out  on't,  thenl"  said  Dick  to  Joan  Toast  "Ben  speaks  truly,  and  'tis 


[  58  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

you  shall  pay  me  two  guineas  this  night!  Marry,  and  were't  not  that  I  am 
poor  as  any  church  mouse  this  week  and  have  not  long  to  live,  you'd  not 
buy  immortality  so  cheap!  My  counsel  is  to  snatch  the  bargain  while  it  lasts, 
for  a  poet  cannot  long  abide  this  world." 

To  which  Joan  rejoined  without  heat,  "Fogh!  Could  any  man  of  ye 
rhyme  as  light  as  talk,  or  swive  grand  as  swagger,  why,  your  verse'd  be  on 
every  lip  in  London  and  your  arse  in  every  bed,  I  swear!  But  Talk  pays  no 
toll:  I  look  to  pacify  nor  ear  nor  bum  with  aught  o'  ye  but  my  sweet  John, 
who  struts  not  a  strut  nor  brags  no  brags,  but  saves  words  for  his  melodies 
and  strength  for  the  bed." 
"Hi!"  applauded  Ben.  "Well  put!" 

"If  ill  timed,"  John  McEvoy  added,  frowning  lightly  upon  her.  "Let  no 
such  sentiments  come  'twixt  thee  and  two  guineas  this  night,  love,  or  thy 
sweet  John'll  have  nor  strength  nor  song,  but  a  mere  rumbly  gut  to  bed  ye 
with  on  the  morrow." 

"  'Sblood!"  remarked  Tom  Trent  without  emotion.  "If  Lady  Joan  reason 
rightly,  there's  one  among  us  who  far  more  merits  her  favor  than  you, 
McEvoy,  for  as  you  speak  one  word  to  our  two,  so  speak  you  ten  to  his  one: 
I  mean  yon  Ebenezer,  who  for  lack  of  words  should  be  chiefest  poet  and 
cocksman  in  this  or  any  winehouse— John  Milton  and  Don  Juan  Tenorio 
in  a  single  skin!" 

"Indeed  he  may  be,"  vowed  Joan,  who,  being  by  chance  seated  next  to 
Ebenezer,  gave  him  a  pat  on  the  hand. 

"At  any  rate,"  smiled  McEvoy,  "having  heard  not  a  line  of  his  making, 
I've  no  evidence  he's  not  a  poet." 

"Nor  I  he's  not  that  other,"  Joan  added  smartly,  "and  'tis  more  praise 
on  both  counts  than  I  can  praise  the  rest  oy  ye."  Then  she  colored  some- 
what and  added:  "I  must  own  I've  heard  it  said,  Many  fat  but  love  lean, 
for  as  how  your  fat  fellow  is  most  often  a  jolly  and  patient  husband,  but 
your  bony  lank  is  long  all  over  and  springy  in  the  bed.  Howbeit,  I've  no 
proof  of  the  thing." 

"Then  'sdeath,  you  shall  have  it!"  cried  Ben  Oliver,  "for  there's  more 
to  extension  than  simple  length.  When  the  subject  in  hand's  the  tool  of 
love,  prithee  give  weight  to  the  matter  of  diameter,  for  diameter's  what 
gives  weight  to  love's  tool-whether  'tis  in  hand  or  in  the  subject,  for  that 
matter!  Nay,  lass,  I'll  stick  by  my  fat,  as't  hath  stuck  by  me.  A  plump  cock's 
the  very  devil  of  the  hen  house,  so  they  say:  he  treads  'em  with  authority!" 
"Tis  too  weighty  a  question  to  leave  unsettled,"  declared  McEvoy. 
"What  think  you,  Tom?" 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  59  ] 

"I  take  no  interest  in  affairs  of  the  flesh/'  said  Tom,  "but  I  have  e'er 
observed  that  women,  like  men,  have  chiefest  relish  in  things  forbidden, 
and  prize  no  conquest  like  that  of  a  priest  or  saint.  Tis  my  guess,  moreover, 
that  they  find  their  trophy  doubly  sweet,  inasmuch  as  'tis  hard  come  by  to 
begin  with,  and  when  got  'tis  fresh  and  potent  as  vintage  brandy,  for  having 
been  so  long  bottled  and  corked." 

"Dick?" 

"I  see  no  sense  in  it,"  Merriweather  said.  "  Tis  not  a  man's  weight,  but 
his  circumstances,  that  make  him  a  lover.  The  sweetest  lover  of  all,  I  should 
think,  is  the  man  about  to  end  his  life,  who  would  by  the  act  of  love  bid 
his  adieu  to  this  world,  and  at  the  moment  of  greatest  heat  pass  on  the 
next." 

"Well,  now,"  McEvoy  said,  "ye  owe  it  to  England  to  put  an  answer  to't. 
What  I  propose  is  this,  that  ye  put  each  your  best  foot  forward,  so  to  speak, 
this  same  night,  and  let  Joan  take  eight  guinea  from  him  she  names  loser. 
Thus  the  winner  gets  glory  for  him  and  his  kind  and  a  swiving  to  boot; 
the  losers  get  still  a  swiving— ay,  a  double  swiving!— and  my  good  woman 
and  I  get  chops  instead  of  chitterlings  for  a  day.  Done?" 

"Not  I,"  said  Tom.  "  Tis  a  sorry  sport,  is  lust,  that  makes  man  a  slavering 
animal  on  embracing  his  mistress  and  a  dolorous  vegetable  after." 

"Nor  I,"  said  Dick,  "for  had  I  eight  guineas  I'd  hire  three  trollops  and  a 
bottle  of  Madeira  for  one  final  debauch  ere  I  end  my  life." 

"Marry,  'tis  done  for  all  o'  me,"  said  Ben,  "and  heartily,  too,  for  your 
Joan's  had  none  of  old  Ben  these  two  months  past." 

"Nor  shall  I  more,"  swore  Joan  cheerfully,  "for  thou'rt  a  sweatbox  and 
a  stinkard,  sir.  My  memory  of  our  last  will  serve  as  your  performance,  when 
I  came  away  bruised  and  abused  as  a  spaniel  bitch  from  a  boar's  pen,  and 
had  need  of  a  course  of  liniments  to  drive  out  the  aches  and  a  course  of 
hot  baths  to  carry  off  the  smell.  For  the  rest  of  the  wager,  'tis  Mr.  Cooke's 
to  yea  or  nay." 

"So  be't,"  shrugged  Ben,  "though  had  I  known  at  the  time  'twas  that 
studding  I'd  be  judged  by,  you'd  have  found  me  more  bull  than  boar  and 
haply  have  a  Minotaur  to  show  for't.  What  say  you,  Ebenezer?" 

Now  Ebenezer  had  followed  this  raillery  intently  and  would  have  joined 
in  it,  perhaps,  but  that  from  his  overstocked  wardrobe  no  particular  style 
came  readily  to  hand.  Then,  when  Joan  Toast  touched  him,  the  hand  she 
touched  tingled  as  if  galvanized,  and  on  the  instant  Ebenezer  felt  his 
soul  rise  up  in  answer.  Had  not  Boyle  shown,  and  Burlingame  taught, 
that  electrical  attraction  takes  place  in  a  vacuum?  Well,  here  was  Boyle 


[  60  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

figured  in  the  empty  poet:  the  pert  girl  worked  some  queer  attraction  in 
him,  called  forth  a  spark  from  the  vacuum  of  his  character,  and  set  him  all 
suddenly  a-burn  and  a-buzz. 

But  did  this  prick-up  afford  the  man  identity?  On  the  contrary:  as  he 
saw  the  direction  the  twitting  took  and  heard  McEvoy  give  birth  to  the 
wager,  he  but  buzzed  and  burned  the  more;  his  mind  ran  madly  to  no 
end  like  a  rat  in  a  race  and  could  not  engage  the  situation.  His  sensibility 
all  erected  and  hard  at  attention,  he  could  feel  the  moment  coming  when 
the  eyes  of  all  would  swing  to  bear  on  him  with  some  question  which  he'd 
be  expected  to  answer.  It  was  the  wait  for  it,  together  with  the  tingle  of 
Joan  Toast's  touch  and  the  rush  to  find  a  face  to  meet  the  wager  with,  that 
made  him  sick  when  his  ears  heard  Ben's  "What  say  you,  Ebenezer?"  and 
his  two  eyes  saw  ten  look  to  him  for  reply. 

What  say?  What  say?  His  windpipe  glotted  with  a  surfeit  of  alternatives; 
but  did  he  urge  one  up  like  a  low-pressured  belch,,  the  suck  of  the  rest 
ungassed  it.  Eyes  grew  quizzical;  smiles  changed  character.  Ebenezer 
reddened,  not  from  embarrassment  but  from  internal  pressure. 

"What  ails  ye,  friend?"  McEvoy. 

"Speak  up,  man!"  Ben  Oliver. 

"'Swounds!  Hell  pop!"  Dick  Merriweather. 

One  Cooke  eyebrow  fluttered.  A  mouth-corner  ticked.  He  closed  and 
unclosed  his  hands  and  his  mouth,  and  the  strain  near  retched  him,  but  it 
was  all  a  dry  heave,  a  false  labor:  no  person  issued  from  it.  He  gaped  and 
sweated. 

"Gah,"  he  said. 

"'Sbloodl"  Tom  Trent.  "He's  ill!  Tis  the  vapors!  The  fellow  wants  a 
clyster!" 

"Ga/i,"  said  Ebenezer  again,  and  then  froze  tight  and  said  no  more,  nor 
moved  a  single  muscle. 

By  this  time  his  behavior  had  been  noticed  by  the  other  patrons  of  the 
winehouse,  and  a  number  of  the  curious  gathered  round  him  where  he  sat, 
now  rigid  as  a  statue. 

"Hi,  there,  throw't  off!"  demanded  one  fellow,  snapping  his  fingers  di- 
rectly before  Ebenezer's  face. 

"'Tis  the  wine  has  dagged  him,  belike,"  a  wag  suggested,  and  tweaked 
the  poet's  nose,  also  without  effect.  "Aye,"  he  affirmed,  "the  lad's  bepickled 
himself  with't.  Mark  ye,  'tis  the  fate  awaits  us  all!" 

"As  you  please,"  declared  Ben  Oliver  with  a  grin;  "I  say  'tis  a  plain  case 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  6l  ] 

of  the  staggering  fearfuls,  and  I  claim  the  victory  by  default,  and  there's  an 
end  on't." 

"Aye,  but  what  doth  it  profit  you?"  Dick  Merriweather  asked. 

"What  else  but  Joan  Toast  this  night?"  laughed  Ben,  slapping  three 
guineas  onto  the  table.  "Upon  your  honor  as  judge,,  John  McEvoy,  will 
you  refuse  me?  Test  my  coins,  fellow:  they'll  ring  true  as  the  next  man's, 
and  there's  three  of  'em." 

McEvoy  shrugged  his  shoulders  and  looked  inquiringly  at  his  Joan. 

"Not  in  a  pig's  arse,"  she  sniffed.  She  flounced  from  her  chair  and  with 
a  wink  at  the  company  flung  her  arms  around  Ebenezer's  neck  and  ca- 
ressed his  cheek. 

"Ah,  me  ducky,  me  dove!"  she  cooed.  "Will  ye  leave  me  to  the  mercies  of 
yon  tub  o'  suet,  to  lard  like  any  poor  partridge?  Save  me,  sirl" 

But  Ebenezer  sat  unmoved  and  unmoving. 

"Tis  no  lardoon  thou'rt  in  for,"  Ben  said.  "Tis  the  very  spit!" 

"Ah!  Ah!"  cried  Joan  as  though  terrified  and,  clambering  onto  Ebene- 
zer's lap,  hid  her  face  in  his  neck.  "I  shake  and  I  shiver!" 

The  company  shouted  with  delight.  Joan  grasped  one  of  Ebenezer's 
large  ears  in  each  hand  and  drew  his  face  nose  to  nose  with  her  own. 

"Carry  me  off!"  she  implored  him. 

"To  the  spit  with  her!"  urged  an  onlooker.  "Baste  the  hussy!" 

"Aye,"  said  Ben,  and  crooked  his  finger  at  her.  "Come  along  now, 
sweetmeat." 

"As  ye  be  a  man  and  a  poet,  Eben  Cooke,"  Joan  scolded,  jumping  to  her 
feet  and  shouting  in  his  ear,  "I  lay  it  upon  ye  to  match  this  rascal's  gold 
with  your  own  and  have  done  with't.  If  ye  will  not  speak  up  and  act  the 
man,  I'm  Ben's  and  be  damned  t'ye!" 

Ebenezer  gave  a  slight  start  and  suddenly  stood  up,  blinking  as  if  just 
roused  from  bed.  His  features  twitched,  and  he  alternately  blushed  and 
paled  as  he  opened  his  mouth  to  speak. 

"I  had  five  guineas  but  this  morning  by  messenger  from  my  father,7'  he 
said  weakly. 

"Thou'rt  a  fool,"  said  Dick  Merriweather.  "She  asks  but  three,  and 
had  you  spoke  sooner  'twould've  cost  you  but  two!" 

"Will  ye  raise  him  two  bob,  Ben?"  asked  John  McEvoy,  who  had  been 
watching  the  proceedings  serenely. 

"Indeed  he  shan't!"  snapped  Joan.  "Is  this  a  horse  auction,  then,  and 
I  a  mare  to  be  rid  by  the  high  bidder?"  She  took  Ebenezer's  arm  fondly. 


[  g2  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"Only  match  Ben's  three  guineas,  ducky,  and  speak  no  more  oft  The 
night's  near  done,  and  I  am  ill  o'  this  lewd  raillery." 

Ebenezer  gawked,  swallowed,  and  shifted  his  weight 

"I  cannot  match  it  here,"  he  said,  "for  I've  but  a  crown  in  my  purse."  He 
glanced  around  him  wildly.  "The  money  is  in  my  rooms,"  he  added,  teeter- 
ing as  if  to  swoon.  "Come  with  me  there,  and  you  shall  have't  all" 

"Hello,  the  lad's  no  fool!"  said  Tom  Trent.  "He  knows  a  thing  or  two!" 

"'Sblood,  a  very  Jew!"  agreed  Dick  Merriweather. 

"Better  a  fowl  in  hand  than  two  flying"  Ben  Oliver  laughed,  and  jingled 
his  three  guineas.  "'Tis  a  hoax  and  fraud,  to  lure  honest  women  to  their 
ruin!  What  would  your  father  say,  Ebenezer,  did  he  get  wind  oft?  Shame^ 
shame!" 

"Pay  the  great  ass  no  heed,"  said  Joan. 

Ebenezer  swayed  again,  and  several  of  the  company  tittered. 

"I  swear  to  you "  he  began. 

"Shame!  Shame!"  cried  Ben  once  more,  wagging  a  fat  finger  at  him  to 
the  company's  delight 

Ebenezer  tried  again,  but  could  do  no  more  than  raise  his  hand  and  let 
it  fall. 

"Stand  off!"  someone  warned  uneasily.  "He  is  starching  up  again!" 

"Shame!"  roared  Ben. 

Ebenezer  goggled  at  Joan  Toast  for  a  second  and  then  lurched  full  speed 
across  the  room  and  out  of  the  winehouse. 


7:  THE  CONVERSATION  BETWEEN  EBENEZER  AND 
THE  WHORE  JOAN  TOAST,  INCLUDING  THE  TALE  OF 
THE  GREAT  TOM  LEECH. 


AS  A  RULE  EBENEZER  WOULD  AFTER  SUCH  A  BUMBLE  HAVE  BEEN  IN  FOR 

some  hours  of  motionless  reflection  in  his  room.  It  was  his  habit  (for  such 
rigidities  as  this  at  Locket's  were  not  new  to  him)  upon  recovering  himself 
to  sit  at  his  writing-desk,  looking-glass  in  hand,  and  stare  fish-eyed  at  his 
face,  which  only  during  such  spells  was  still.  But  this  time,  though  he  did 
indeed  take  up  his  vis-a-vis>  the  face  he  regarded  was  anything  but  vacant: 
on  the  contrary,  where  typically  he'd  have  seen  a  countenance  blank  as  an 
owl's,  now  he  saw  a  roil  as  of  swallows  round  a  chimney  pot;  whereas  an- 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  63  ] 

other  time  he'd  have  heard  in  his  head  but  a  cosmic  rustle,  as  though 
his  skull  were  a  stranded  wentletrap,  now  he  sweated,  blushed,  and  dreamed 
two  score  ragged  dreams.  He  studied  the  ears  Joan  Toast  had  touched,  as 
though  by  study  to  restore  their  tingle,  and  when  he  could  by  no  means 
succeed,  he  recognized  with  alarm  that  it  was  his  heart  she  now  had 
hands  on. 

"Ah  God/'  he  cried  aloud,  "that  I'd  risen  to  the  wager!" 

The  manly  sound  of  his  voice  arrested  him.  Moreover,  it  was  the  first 
time  he'd  ever  spoken  to  himself  aloud,  and  he  failed  to  be  embarrassed 
by  it. 

"Had  I  but  another  chance,"  he  declared  to  himself,  "'twould  be  no 
chore  to  snatch  the  moment!  Lord,  into  what  ferment  have  those  eyes  put 
me!  Into  what  heat  those  bosoms!" 

He  took  up  the  glass  again,  made  himself  a  face,  and  inquired,  "Who  art 
thou  now,  queer  fellow?  Hi,  there  is  a  twitch  in  thy  blood,  I  see— a  fidget 
in  thy  soul!  Twere  a  right  manly  man  Joan  Toast  would  taste,  were  the 
wench  but  here  to  taste  him!" 

It  occurred  to  him  to  return  to  Locket's  to  seek  her  out,  on  the  chance 
she'd  not  have  succumbed  to  Ben  Oliver's  entreaties.  But  he  was  reluctant 
to  confront  his  friends  so  soon  after  his  flight,  in  the  first  place,  and  in  the 
second 

"Curse  me  for  my  innocence!"  he  railed,  pounding  his  fist  upon  some 
blank  papers  on  the  writing-desk.  "What  knowledge  have  I  of  such  things? 
Suppose  she  should  come  with  me?  'Sblood!  What  then? 

"Yet  'tis  now  or  never,"  he  told  himself  grimly.  "This  Joan  Toast  sees  in 
me  what  no  woman  hath  before,  nor  I  myself:  a  man  like  other  men.  And 
for  aught  I  know  she  hath  made  me  one,  for  when  else  have  I  talked  to 
myself?  When  else  felt  so  potent?  To  Locket's,"  he  ordered  himself,  "or  go 
virgin  to  the  grave!" 

Nevertheless  he  did  not  get  up,  but  lapsed  instead  into  lecherous,  com- 
plicated reveries  of  rescue  and  gratitude;  of  shipwreck  or  plague  and  mutual 
survivorship;  of  abduction,  flight,  and  violent  assault;  and,  sweetest  of  all,  of 
towering  fame  and  casual  indulgence.  When  at  length  he  realized  that  he 
was  not  going  to  Locket's  at  all,  he  was  overcome  with  self-loathing  and 
returned,  in  despair,  once  more  to  the  mirror. 

He  calmed  at  the  sight  of  the  face  in  it. 

"Odd  fellow,  there!  Ooo-ooo/  Hey-nonny-nonny!  Fa-la!" 

He  leered  and  mouthed  into  the  glass  until  his  eyes  brimmed  with  tears, 


[64]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

and  then,  exhausted,  buried  his  face  in  his  long  aims.  Presently  he  fell 
asleep. 

There  came,  an  uncertain  time  later,  a  knocking  at  the  entrance  door 
below,  and  before  Ebenezer  was  awake  enough  to  wonder  at  it,  his  own 
door  was  opened  by  his  servant,  Bertrand,  who  had  been  sent  to  him  just  a 
few  days  earlier  by  his  father.  This  Bertrand  was  a  thin-faced,  wide-eyed 
bachelor  in  his  later  forties  whom  Ebenezer  knew  scarcely  at  all,  for 
Andrew  had  hired  him  while  the  young  man  was  still  at  Cambridge.  With 
him,  when  he  had  come  from  the  St.  Giles  establishment,  he  had  brought 
the  following  note  from  Andrew,  in  an  envelope  sealed  with  wax: 

Ebenezer, 

The  Bearer  of  this  note  is  Bertrand  Burton,  my  Valet  since  1686,  and  now 
yours,  if  you  want  him.  He  is  a  diligent  enough  fellow,  if  something  presump- 
tuous, and  will  make  you  a  good  man  if  you  hold  him  to  his  place.  Mrs  Twigg 
and  he  got  on  ill  together,  to  the  point  where  I  had  either  to  sack  him  or 
lose  her,  without  whom  I  could  scarce  manage  my  house.  Yet  deeming  it  a  hard 
matter  to  sack  the  fellow  outright,  whose  only  fault  is,  that  though  he  never 
forgets  his  work,  he  oft  forgets  his  place,  I  have  promoted  him  out  of  my  service 
into  yours.  I  shall  pay  him  his  first  quarters  wage;  after  that,  if  you  want  him, 
I  presume  your  post  with  Paggen  will  afford  him. 

Though  his  current  wage  from  Peter  Paggen,  which  was  precisely  what 
it  had  been  in  1688,  was  barely  adequate  to  keep  himself,  Ebenezer  none- 
theless had  welcomed  Bertrand's  service,  at  least  for  the  three  months  dur- 
ing which  it  was  to  cost  him  nothing.  Luckily,  the  room  adjoining  his  own 
was  unoccupied  at  the  time,  and  he  had  arranged  with  his  landlord  for 
Bertrand  to  lodge  there,  where  he  was  always  within  call. 

Now  the  man  stepped  into  the  room  in  nightshirt  and  cap,  all  smiles  and 
winks,  said,  "A  lady  to  see  you,  sir/'  and,  to  Ebenezer's  great  surprise, 
ushered  Joan  Toast  herself  into  the  room. 

"I  shall  retire  at  once,"  he  announced,  winking  again,  and  left  them  be- 
fore Ebenezer  could  recover  sufficiently  to  protest.  He  was  extremely 
embarrassed  and  not  a  little  alarmed  at  being  alone  with  her,  but  Joan,  not 
a  whit  disturbed,  came  over  to  where  he  still  sat  at  the  writing  table  and 
bussed  him  lightly  upon  the  cheek. 

"Say  not  a  word/'  she  ordered,  taking  off  her  hat.  "I  know  well  I'm 
tardy,  and  I  ask  your  pardon  for't." 

Ebenezer  sat  dumb,  too  astonished  to  speak.  Joan  strode  blithely  to  the 
windows,  closed  the  curtains,  and  commenced  undressing. 

Tis  your  friend  Ben  Oliver's  to  blame,  with  his  three  guineas,  and  his 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  65  ] 

four  guineas,  and  his  five  guineas,  and  his  great  hands  both  a-clench  to  lay 
hold  on  me!  But  a  shilling  o'er  your  five  he  couldn't  offer,  or  wouldn't,  and 
since  'twas  you  first  offered  it,  I'm  quit  o'  the  brute  with  conscience  clear." 

Ebenezer  stared  at  her,  head  afire. 

"Come  along  now,  sweet,"  Joan  said  presently,  and  turned  to  him 
entirely  unclothed.  "Put  thy  guineas  upon  the  table  and  let's  to  bed. 
Faith,  but  there's  a  nip  in  the  air  this  night!  Brrr!  Jump  to't,  now!"  She 
sprang  to  the  bed  and  snuggled  under  the  coverlets,  drawing  them  up 
around  her  chin. 

"Come  along!"  she  said  again,  a  bit  more  briskly. 

"Ah  God,  I  cannot!"  Ebenezer  said.  His  face  was  rapturous,  his  eyes 
were  wild. 

"Ye  what?"  Joan  cried,  throwing  back  the  covers  and  sitting  up  in  alarm. 

"I  cannot  pay  thee,"  Ebenezer  declared. 

"Not  pay  me!  What  prank  is  this,  sir,  ye  make  me  butt  of,  when  I  have 
put  off  Ben  Oliver  and  his  five  gold  guineas?  Out  with  thy  money  now, 
Master  Cooke,  and  off  with  thy  breeches,  and  prank  me  no  pranks!" 

"Tis  no  prank,  Joan  Toast,"  said  Ebenezer.  "I  cannot  pay  thee  five 
guineas,  or  four  guineas,  or  three.  I  cannot  pay  thee  a  shilling.. Nay,  not  so 
much  as  a  farthing." 

"What!  Are  ye  paupered,  then?"  She  gripped  his  shoulders  as  if  to  shake 
him.  "Marry,  sir,  open  wide  those  great  cow's  eyes,  that  I  may  claw  them 
from  out  their  sockets!  Think  ye  to  make  a  fool  o'  me?"  She  swung  her 
legs  over  the  side  of  the  bed. 

"Nay,  nay,  lady!"  Ebenezer  cried,,  falling  to  his  knees  before  her.  "Nay, 
I  have  the  five  guineas,  and  more.  But  how  price  the  priceless?  How  buy 
Heaven  with  simple  gold?  Ah,  Joan  Toast,  ask  me  not  to  cheapen  thee  so! 
Was't  for  gold  that  silver-footed  Thetis  shared  the  bed  of  Peleus,  Achilles' 
sire?  Think  thee  Venus  and  Anchises  did  their  amorous  work  on  considera- 
tion of  five  guineas?  Nay,  sweet  Joan,  a  man  seeks  not  in  the  market  for  the 
favors  of  a  goddess!" 

"Let  foreign  bawds  run  their  business  as't  please  'em,"  Joan  declared, 
somewhat  calmer.  "  'Tis  five  guineas  the  night  for  this  one,  and  pay  ere  ye 
play.  Do  ye  reckon  it  cheap,  then  pleasure  in  thy  bargain:  'tis  all  one  to 
me.  What  a  temper  ye  put  me  in  with  thy  not  a  farthing!  I  had  near 
leaped  ye!  Come  along,  now,  and  save  thy  conceits  for  a  love  sonnet  in  the 
morning." 

"Ah,  dear  God,  Joan,  wilt  thou  not  see?"  said  Ebenezer,  still  down  upon 
his  knees.  "  'Tis  not  for  common  sport  I  crave  thee,  as  might  another:  such 


[66]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

lechery  I  leave  to  mere  gluttonous  whoremongers  like  Ben  Oliver.  What  I 
crave  of  thee  cannot  be  bought!" 

"Aha/'  smiled  Joan,  "so  'tis  a  matter  o'  strange  tastes,  is't?  Fd  not  have 
guessed  it  by  the  honest  look  o'  ye,  but  think  not  so  quickly  'tis  out  o'  the 
question.  Well  do  I  know  There's  more  -ways  to  the  woods  than  one,  and 
if  t  work  no  great  or  lasting  hurt,  why,  'tis  but  a  matter  o7  price  to  me,  sir. 
Name  me  thy  game,  and  I'll  fix  thee  thy  fee/' 

"Joan,  Joan,  put  by  this  talk!"  cried  Ebenezer,  shaking  his  head,  "Can 
you  not  see  it  tears  my  heart?  What's  past  is  past;  I  cannot  bear  to  think 
on't,  how  much  the  less  hear  it  from  thy  sweet  lips!  Dear  girl,  I  swear  to  thee 
now  I  am  a  virgin,  and  as  I  come  to  thee  pure  and  undefiled,  so  in  my 
mind  you  come  to  me;  whate'er  hath  gone  before,  speak  not  of  it.  Nay!" 
he  warned,  for  Joan's  mouth  dropped  open.  "Nay,  not  a  word  oft,  for  'tis 
over  and  done.  Joan  Toast,  I  love  thee!  Ah,  that  startles  thee!  Aye,  I  swear 
to  Heaven  I  love  thee,  and  'twas  to  declare  it  I  wished  thee  here.  Speak  no 
more  of  your  awful  trafficking,  for  I  love  thy  sweet  body  unspeakably,  and 
that  spirit  which  it  so  fairly  houses,  unimaginably!" 

"Nay,  Mr.  Cooke,  'tis  an  unbecoming  jest  ye  make,  to  call  thyself  virgin," 
Joan  said  doubtfully. 

"As  God  is  my  witness,"  swore  Ebenezer,  "I  have  known  no  woman 
carnally  to  this  night,  nor  ever  loved  at  all." 

"But  how  is  that?"  Joan  demanded.  "Why,  when  I  was  but  a  slip  of  a 
thing,  not  yet  fourteen  and  innocent  of  the  world's  villainy,  I  recall  I  once 
cried  out  at  table  how  I  had  commenced  a  queer  letting  of  blood,  and 
what  was  I  ill  of?  And  send  quick  for  the  leeches!  And  everyone  laughed 
and  made  strange  jests,  but  none  would  tell  me  what  was  the  cause  oft 
Then  my  young  bachelor  uncle  Harold  approached  me  privily,  and  kissed 
me  upon  the  lips  and  stroked  my  hair,  and  told  me  'twas  no  common 
leech  I  wanted,  for  that  I  was  letting  much  blood  already;  but  that  anon 
when  I  had  stopped  I  should  come  to  him  in  secret,  for  he  kept  in  his 
rooms  a  great  torn  leech  such  as  I  had  ne'er  yet  been  bit  by,  the  virtue  of 
which  was,  that  it  would  restore  by  sweet  infusions  what  I  had  lost.  I  be- 
lieved without  question  all  that  he  told  me,  for  he  was  a  great  favorite  o' 
mine,  more  brother  than  uncle  to  me,  and  therefore  I  said  naught  to  any- 
one, but  directly  the  curse  left  me  went  straight  to  his  bedchamber,  as  he 
had  prescribed.  'Where  is  the  great  torn  leech?'  I  asked  him.  4I  have't  ready/ 
said  he,  *but  it  fears  the  light  and  will  do  its  work  only  in  darkness.  Make 
thyself  ready,'  said  he,  'and  I'll  apply  the  leech  where  it  must  go/  *Very  well,' 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [67] 

said  I,  "but  ye  must  tell  me  how  to  ready  myself,  Harold,  for  I  know  naught 
of  leeching/  'Disrobe  thyself/  said  he,  'and  lie  down  upon  the  bed/ 

"And  so  I  stripped  myself  all  naked,  simple  soul  that  I  was,  right  before 
his  eyes,  and  lay  down  upon  the  bed  as  he  directed— a  skinny  pup  I,  as  yet 
unbreasted  and  unfurred— and  he  blew  out  the  candle.  'Ah,  dear  Harold!' 
I  cried.  'Come  lie  beside  me  on  the  bed,  I  pray,  for  I  fear  the  bite  o'  thy 
great  torn  leech  in  the  dark!'  Harold  made  me  no  answer,  but  shortly  joined 
me  upon  his  bed.  'How  is  this?'  I  cried,  feeling  his  skin  upon  me.  'Do  you 
mean  to  take  the  leech  as  well?  Did  you  too  lose  blood?'  'Nay/  he  laughed, 
'  'tis  but  the  manner  whereby  my  leech  must  be  applied.  I  have't  ready  for 
ye,  dear  girl;  are  ye  ready  for't?'  'Nay,  dear  Harold,'  I  cried,  'I  am  fearful! 
Where  will  it  bite  me?  How  will  it  hurt?' '  'Twill  bite  where  it  must/  said 
Harold,  'and  'twill  pain  ye  a  mere  minute,  and  then  pleasure  ye  enough/ 
'Ah,  then,'  I  sighed,  'let  us  get  by  the  pain  and  hasten  the  pleasure  with  all 
speed.  But  prithee  hold  my  hand,  lest  I  cry  out  at  the  creature's  bite/ 
*Ye  shan't  cry  out,'  Harold  said  then,  'for  I  shall  kiss  ye/ 

"And  straightway  he  embraced  me  and  kissed  my  mouth  tight  shut,  and, 
while  we  were  a-kissing,  suddenly  I  felt  the  great  torn  leech  his  fearful  bite, 
and  I  was  maiden  no  more!  At  first  I  wept,  not  alone  from  the  pain  he'd 
warned  of,  but  from  alarm  at  what  I'd  learned  o'  the  leech's  nature.  But  e'en 
as  Harold  promised,  the  pain  soon  flew,  and  his  great  torn  leech  took 
bite  after  bite  till  near  sunup,  by  which  time,  though  I  was  by  no  means 
weary  o'  the  leeching,  my  Harold  had  no  more  leech  to  leech  with,  but  only 
a  poor  cockroach  or  simple  pismire,  not  fit  for  the  work,  which  scurried 
away  at  the  first  light.  Twas  then  I  learned  the  queer  virtue  o'  this  animal: 
for  just  as  a  fleabite,  the  more  ye  scratch  it,  wants  scratching  the  more,  so, 
once  this  creature  had  bit  me,  I  longed  for  futher  bites  and  was  forever  after 
poor  Harold  and  his  leech,  like  an  opium  eater  his  phial.  And  though  since 
then  I've  suffered  the  bite  of  every  sort  and  size— none  more  fearsome  or 
ravenous  than  my  good  John's— yet  the  craving  plagues  me  still,  till  I  shiver 
at  the  thought  o'  the  great  torn  leech!" 

"Stop,  I  beg  thee!"  Ebenezer  pleaded.  "I  cannot  hear  more!  What,  'Dear 
Uncle/  you  call  him,  and  'Poor  Harold'!  Ah,  the  knave,  the  scoundrel, 
to  deceive  you  so,  who  loved  and  trusted  him!  Twas  no  leechery  he  put 
thee  to,  but  lechery,  and  laid  thy  maiden  body  forever  in  the  bed  of  harlotry! 
I  curse  him,  and  his  ilk!" 

"Ye  say't  with  relish,"  smiled  Joan,  "as  one  who'd  do  the  like  with  fire 
in  his  eye  and  sweat  on  his  arse,  could  he  find  himself  a  child  fond  as  I.  Nay, 
Ebenezer,  rail  not  at  poor  dear  Harold,  who  is  these  several  years  under  the 


[  68  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

sod  from  an  ague  got  swiving  ardently  in  cold  chambers.  Says  I,  'tis  but  the 
nature  o'  the  leech  to  bite  and  of  the  leeched  to  want  biting,  and  'tis 
a  mystery  and  astonishment  to  me,  since  so  many  crave  leeching  and  the 
best  leech  is  so  lightly  surfeited,  how  yours  hath  gone  starved,  as  ye  declare, 
these  thirty  years!  What,  are  ye  a  mere  arrant  sluggard,  sir?  Or  are  ye  haply 
o'  that  queer  sort  who  lust  for  none  but  their  own  sex?  Tis  a  thing  past 
grasping!" 

"Nor  the  one  nor  the  other,"  replied  Ebenezer.  "I  am  man  in  spirit  as 
well  as  body,  and  my  innocence  is  not  wholly  my  own  choosing.  I  have 
ere  now  been  ready  enough,  but  to  grind  love's  grain  wants  mortar  as  well 
as  pestle;  no  man  dances  the  morris  dance  alone^  and  till  this  night  no 
woman  e'er  looked  on  me  with  favor." 

"Marry!"  laughed  Joan.  "Doth  the  ewe  chase  the  ram,  or  the  hen  the 
cock?  Doth  the  field  come  to  the  plow  for  furrowing,  or  the  scabbard  to 
the  sword  for  sheathing?  'Tis  all  arsy-turvy  ye  look  at  the  world!" 

"That  I  grant,"  sighed  Ebenezer,  "but  I  know  naught  of  the  art  of 
seduction,  nor  have  the  patience  for't." 

"Fogh!  There's  no  great  labor  to  the  bedding  of  women!  For  the  most, 
all  a  man  need  do,  I  swear,  is  ask  plainly  and  politely,  did  he  but  know  it" 
"How  is  that?"  exclaimed  Ebenezer  in  astonishment  "Are  women  then 
so  lecherous?" 

"Nay,"  said  Joan.  "Think  not  we  crave  a  swiving  pure  and  simple  at  any 
time  as  do  men  always-'tis  oft  a  pleasure  with  us,  but  rarely  a  passion. 
Howbeit,  what  with  men  forever  panting  at  us  like  so  many  hounds  at  a 
salt-bitch,  and  begging  us  put  by  our  virtue  and  give  'em  a  tumble,  and 
withal  despising  us  for  whores  and  slatterns  if  we  do;  or  bidding  us  be 
faithful  to  our  husbands  and  yet  losing  no  chance  to  cuckold  their  truest 
friends;  or  charging  us  to  guard  our  chastity  and  yet  assaulting  it  from  all 
quarters  in  every  alleyway,  carriage,  or  sitting  room;  or  being  soon  bored 
with  us  if  we  show  no  fire  in  swiving  and  yet  sermoning  us  for  sinners  if  we 
do;  inventing  morals  on  the  one  hand  and  rape  on  the  other;  and  in  general 
preaching  us  to  virtue  whilst  they  lure  us  on  to  vice-what  with  the  pull  and 
haul  of  all  this,  I  say,  we  women  are  forever  at  sixes  and  sevens,  all  fussed 
and  rattled  and  torn  'twixt  what  we  ought  and  what  we  would,  and  so 
entirely  confounded,  that  we  never  know  what  we  think  on  the  matter  or 
how  much  license  to  grant  from  one  minute  to  the  next;  so  that  if  a  man 
commence  the  usual  strut,  pat,  and  tweak,  we  may  thrust  him  from  us  (if 
he  do  not  floor  us  and  have  at  us  by  main  strength);  and  if  he  let  us  quite 
alone,  we  are  so  happy  of  the  respite  we  dare  not  make  a  move;  but  should 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  69  ] 

e'er  a  man  approach  us  in  all  honest  friendship,  and  look  upon  us  as  fellow 
humans  and  not  just  a  bum  and  a  bosom,  from  eyes  other  than  a  stud- 
stallion's,  and  after  some  courteous  talk  should  propose  a  cordial  swiving  as 
one  might  a  hand  of  whist  (instead  of  inviting  us  to  whist  as  lecherously  as 
though  to  bed) —if,  I  say,  e'er  a  man  should  learn  to  make  such  a  request  in 
such  a  manner,  his  bed  would  break  'neath  the  weight  of  grateful  women, 
and  he  would  grow  gray  ere  his  time!  But  in  sooth  'twill  never  happen," 
Joan  concluded,  "forasmuch  as  'twould  mean  receiving  a  partner  and  not 
taking  a  vassal:  'tis  not  mere  sport  a  man  lusts  after,  'tis  conquest-— else 
philanderers  were  rare  as  the  plague  and  not  common  as  the  pox.  Do  but 
ask,  Ebenezer,  cordially  and  courteously,  as  ye  would  ask  a  small  favor  from 
a  good  friend,  and  what  ye  ask  shall  rarely  be  refused.  But  ye  must  ask,  else 
in  our  great  relief  at  not  being  hard  pressed  for't,  we  shall  pass  ye  by." 

"Indeed,"  admitted  Ebenezer,  shaking  his  head,  "it  had  not  struck  me 
ere  now,  what  a  sad  lot  is  woman's.  What  beasts  we  are!" 

"Ah,  well,"  sighed  Joan,  "  'tis  small  concern  o'  mine,  save  when  I  reflect 
on't  now  and  again:  a  whore  loses  little  sleep  on  such  nice  questions.  So 
long  as  a  man  hath  my  price  in  his  purse  and  smells  somewhat  more  sweet 
than  a  tanyard  and  leaves  me  in  peace  come  morning,  I  shan't  say  him 
nay  nor  send  him  off  ill-pleased  with  his  purchase.  And  I  love  a  virgin  as  a 
child  loves  a  new  pup,  to  make  him  stand  and  beg  for't*  or  lie  and  play 
dead.  Off  your  knees,  then,  and  to  bed  with  ye,  ere  ye  take  a  quartan  ague 
from  the  draught!  There's  many  a  trick  I'll  teach  ye!" 

So  saying  she  held  out  her  arms  to  him,  and  Ebenezer,  breaking  at  once 
into  sweat  and  goose  bumps  from  the  contest  between  his  ardor  and  the 
cold  March  draughts  in  which  for  a  quarter  hour  he'd  been  kneeling, 
embraced  her  fervently. 

"Dear  God,  is't  true?"  he  cried.  "What  astonishment  it  is,  to  be  granted 
all  suddenly  in  fact  what  one  hath  yearned  for  time  out  of  mind  in  dreams! 
Dear  heart,  what  a  bewilderment!  No  words  come!  My  arms  fail  me!" 

"Let  not  thy  purse  fail  thee,"  Joan  remarked,  "and  for  the  rest,  leave't 
to  me." 

"But  'fore  God  I  love  thee,  Joan  Toast!"  Ebenezer  moaned.  "Can  it  be 
you  think  yet  of  the  filthy  purse?" 

"Do  but  pay  me  my  five  guineas  ere  ye  commence,"  Joan  said,  "and  then 
love  me  'fore  God  or  man,  'tis  all  one  to  me," 

"You  will  drive  me  to  Bedlam  with  your  five  guineas!"  Ebenezer  shouted. 
"I  love  thee  as  never  man  loved  woman,  I  swear't,  and  rather  would  I 
throttle  thee,  or  suffer  myself  throttled,  than  turn  my  love  to  mere 


[y0]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

whoremongering  with  that  accursed  five  guineas!  I  will  be  thy  vassal;  I 
will  fly  with  thee  down  the  coasts  of  earth;  I  will  deliver  soul  and  body  into 
thy  hands  for  very  love;  but  I  will  not  take  thee  for  my  whore  while  breath 
is  in  me!" 

"Ah,  then,  'tis  after  all  a  fraud  and  deceit!"  Joan  cried,  her  eyes  flashing. 
'Te  think  to  gull  me  with  thee's  and  thy's  and  your  prattle  o'  love  and 
chastity!  I  say  pay  me  my  fee,  Eben  Cooke,  or  I'll  leave  ye  this  minute  for 
ever  and  all;  and  'tis  many  the  hour  ye'll  curse  your  miserliness,  when  word 
oft  reaches  my  Johnny  McEvoy!" 

"I  cannot/'  Ebenezer  said. 

"Then  know  that  I  despise  ye  for  a  knave  and  fool!"  Joan  jumped  from 
the  bed  and  snatched  up  her  garments. 

"And  know  that  I  love  thee  for  my  savior  and  inspiration!"  Ebenezer 
replied.  "For  ne'er  till  you  came  to  me  this  night  have  I  been  a  man, 
but  a  mere  dotting  oaf  and  fop;  and  ne'er  till  I  embraced  thee  have  I 
been  a  poet,  but  a  shallow  coxcomb  and  poetaster!  With  thee,  Joan, 
what  deeds  could  I  not  accomplish!  What  verse  not  write!  Nay,  e'en  should 
you  scorn  me  in  your  error  and  ne'er  look  on  me  more,  I  will  love  thee 
nonetheless,  and  draw  power  and  purpose  from  my  love.  For  so  strong 
is't,  that  e'en  unrequited  it  shall  sustain  and  inspire  me;  but  should  God 
grant  thee  wit  to  comprehend  and  receive  it  and  return  it  as  then  you 
would  perforce,  why,  the  world  would  hear  such  verses  as  have  ne'er  been 
struck,  and  our  love  would  stand  as  model  and  exemplar  to  all  times!  Scorn 
me,  Joan,  and  I  shall  be  a  splendid  fool,  a  Don  Quixote  tilting  for  his 
ignorant  Dulcinea;  but  I  here  challenge  thee— if  you've  life  and  fire  and 
wit  enough,  love  me  truly  as  I  love  thee,  and  then  shall  I  joust  with  bona 
fide  giants  and  bring  them  low!  Love  me,  and  I  swear  to  thee  this:  I  shall 
be  Poet  Laureate  of  England!" 

"Methinks  thou'rt  a  Bedlamite  already,"  Joan  snapped,  hooking  up  her 
dress.  "As  for  my  ignorance,  I  had  rather  be  fool  than  scoundrel,  and  yet 
rather  scoundrel  than  madman,  and  in  sooth  I  believe  thou'rt  all  three  in 
one  skin.  Mayhap  I'm  dolt  enough  not  to  grasp  this  grand  passion  ye  make 
such  claim  to,  but  I've  mother  wit  enough  to  see  when  I'm  hoaxed  and 
cheated.  My  John  shall  hear  oft." 

"Ah  Joan,  Joan!"  Ebenezer  pleaded.  "Are  you  then  indeed  unworthy? 
For  I  declare  to  thee  solemnly:  no  man  will  e'er  offer  thee  another  such 
love." 

"Do  but  offer  me  my  rightful  fee,  and  I'll  say  not  a  word  to  John:  the 
rest  o'  your  offer  ye  may  put  back  in  your  hat." 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  Jl  ] 

"So,"  sighed  Ebenezer,  still  transported,  "you  are  unworthy!  So  be't,  ift 
must:  I  love  thee  no  less  for't,  or  for  the  sufferings  I  shall  welcome  in 
thy  name!" 

"May  ye  suffer  French  pox,  ye  great  ass!"  Joan  replied,  and  left  the  room 
in  a  heat. 

Ebenezer  scarcely  noted  her  departure,  so  full  was  he  of  his  love;  he 
strode  feverishly  about  the  bedchamber,  hands  clasped  behind  his  back, 
pondering  the  depth  and  force  of  his  new  feeling.  "Am  I  waked  to  the 
world  from  a  thirty-year  sleep?"  he  asked  himself.  "Or  is't  only  now  I've 
begun  to  dream?  Surely  none  awake  e'er  felt  such  dizzy  power,  nor  any 
man  in  dreams  such  bursting  life!  Hi!  A  song!" 

He  ran  to  his  writing-desk,  snatched  up  his  quill,  and  with  little  ado 
penned  the  following  song: 

Not  Priam  for  the  ravagd  Town  of  Troy, 

Andromache  for  her  bouncing  Baby  Boy, 
Ulysses  for  his  chaste  Penelope, 

Bare  the  Love,  dear  Joan,  I  bear  for  Theel 

But  as  cold  Semele  pritfd  Endymion, 

And  Phaedra  sweet  Hippolytus  her  Step-Son, 

He  being  Virgin — so,  I  pray  may  Ye 

Whom  I  love,  love  my  stainless  Chastity. 

For  'tis  no  niggard  Gift,  my  Innocence, 

But  one  that,  giv'n,  defieth  Recompense; 
No  common  Jewel  pluck' d  from  glist'ring  Hoard, 

But  one  that,  taken,  ne'er  can  be  restored. 

Preserv'd,  my  Innocence  preserveth  Me 

From  Life,  from  Time,  from  Death,  from  History; 

Without  it  I  must  breathe  Man's  mortal  Breath: 

Commence  a  Life — and  thus  commence  my  Death! 

When  he  was  done  composing  he  wrote  at  the  bottom  of  the  page 
Ebenezer  Cooke,  Gent.,  Poet  and  Laureate  of  England,  just  to  try  the 
look  of  it,  and,  regarding  it,  was  pleased. 

"  Tis  now  but  a  question  of  time,"  he  rejoiced.  "Faith,  'tis  a  rare  wise 
man  knows  who  he  is:  had  I  not  stood  firm  with  Joan  Toast,  I  might  well 
ne'er  have  discovered  that  knowledge!  Did  I,  then,  make  a  choice?  Nay, 
for  there  was  no  I  to  make  it!  'Twas  the  choice  made  me:  a  noble  choice, 
to  prize  my  love  o'er  my  lust,  and  a  noble  choice  bespeaks  a  noble  chooser. 
What  am  I?  What  am  I?  Virgin,  sir!  Poet,  sir!  I  am  a  virgin  and  a  poet;  less 


[  72  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

than  mortal  and  more;  not  a  man,  but  Mankind!  I  shall  regard  my  innocence 
as  badge  of  my  strength  and  proof  of  my  calling:  let  her  who's  worthy  oft 
take  it  from  me!" 

Just  then  the  servant  Bertrand  tapped  softly  on  the  door  and  entered, 
candle  in  hand,  before  Ebenezer  had  a  chance  to  speak. 

"Should  I  retire  now,  sir?"  he  asked,  and  added  with  an  enormous  wink, 
"Or  will  there  be  more  visitors?" 

Ebenezer  blushed.  "Nay,,  nay,  go  to  bed." 

'Very  good,  sir.  Pleasant  dreams." 

"How's  that?" 

But  Bertrand,  with  another  great  wink,  closed  the  door. 

"Really,"  Ebenezer  thought,  "the  fellow  is  presumptuous!"  He  returned 
to  the  poem  and  reread  it  several  times  with  a  frown. 

"Tis  a  gem,"  he  admitted,  "but  there  wants  some  final  touch,  .  ,  ? 

He  scrutinized  it  line  for  line;  at  Bare  the  Love,  dear  Joan,  1  bear  for 
Thee  he  paused,  furrowed  his  great  brow,  pursed  his  lips,  squinted  his  eye% 
tapped  his  foot,  and  scratched  his  chin  with  the  feather  of  his  quill. 

"Hm,"  he  said. 

After  some  thought,  he  inked  his  quill  $nd  struck  out  Joan,  setting  in  its 
place  the  word  Heart.  Then  he  reread  the  whole  poem. 

"  'Twas  the  master  touch!"  he  (declared  with  satisfaction.  "The  piece  is 
perfect." 


8:  A  COLLOQUY  BETWEEN  MEN  OF  PRINCIPLE,  AND 
WHAT  CAME  OF  IT 


WHEN  HE   HAD   DONE   REVISING   HIS   POEM  EBENEZER   t*AID    IT   ON   HIS 

night  table,  undressed,  went  to  bed,  and  presently  resumed  the  sleep  that 
Joan  Toast's  visit  had  interrupted,  for  the  day's  events  had  quite  fatigued 
him.  But  again  his  sleep  was  fitful— this  time  it  was  excitement  and  not 
despair  that  bothered  him— and,  as  before,  it  was  short-lived:  he  had  been 
beneath  his  quilts  no  more  than  an  hour  before  he  was  waked  once  again 
by  a  loud  knocking  at  the  door,  which  he'd  forgot  to  latch  after  Joan's 
departure. 

"Who  is't?"  he  called.  "Bertrand!  Someone's  knocking!" 

Before  he  could  make  a  light,  or  even  get  up  from  the  bed*  the  door 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [73] 

was  opened  roughly,  and  John  McEvoy,  lantern  in  hand,  strode  into  the 
room.  He  stood  beside  the  bed  and  held  the  light  close  to  Ebenezer's  face. 
Bertrand,  apparently,  was  asleep,  for  to  Ebenezer's  slight  distress  he  failed 
to  appear. 

"My  five  guineas,  if  ye  please,"  McEvoy  demanded  calmly,  holding  out 
his  other  hand. 

Ebenezer  broke  at  once  into  a  mighty  sweat,  but  he  contrived  to  ask 
hoarsely,  from  the  bed,  "How  is't  I  owe  you  money?  I  cannot  recall  buying 
aught  of  you." 

"Ye  do  but  prove  your  ignorance  of  the  world,"  declared  McEvoy,  "for 
the  first  principle  o'  harlotry  is,  that  what  a  man  buys  of  a  whore  is  not  so- 
much  her  bum  but  her  will  and  her  time;  when  ye  hire  my  Joan  'tis  neither 
her  affair  nor  mine  what  use  ye  make  o'  her,  so  long  as  ye  pay  yer  fee.  As't 
happens,  ye  chose  to  talk  in  lieu  of  swiving;  'twas  a  fool's  choice,  but  'tis 
your  privilege  to  play  the  fool  if  t  please  ye.  Now,  sir,  my  five  guineas!" 

"Ah,  my  friend,"  said  Ebenezer,  reminding  himself  grimly  of  his  identity, 
"'tis  only  fair  to  tell  you,  if  haply  Joan  did  not:  I  love  her  wondrously!" 

"  'Tis  all  one,  so  ye  pay  your  fee,"  replied  McEvoy. 

"That  I  cannot,"  Ebenezer  said.  "Your  own  reasoning  in  the  matter 
rules  it  out.  For  if  'tis  true,,  as  you  declare,  that  'tis  the  rental  of  her  will 
and  time  that  makes  a  woman  whore,  then  to  pay  you  for  what  of  her 
time  she  spent  here  would  make  her  my  whore  though  I  did  not  touch  her 
carnally.  And  make  her  my  whore  I  will  not— nay,  not  were  I  racked  for't! 
I  bear  you  no  ill  will,  John  McEvoy,  nor  must  you  think  me  miserly:  I've 
gold  enough,  and  no  fear  of  parting  with  it." 

"Then  pay  your  fee,"  said  McEvoy. 

"My  dear  man,"  Ebenezer  smiled,  "will  you  not  take  five— nay,  six 
guineas  from  me  as  an  outright  gift?" 

"Five  guineas,  as  a  fee,"  repeated  McEvoy. 

"Where's  the  difference  to  you,  should  I  call  the  sum  a  gift  and  not  a 
payment?  'Twill  fetch  no  less  in  the  market,  I  pledge  you!" 

"If't  makes  no  difference,"  replied  McEvoy,  "then  call  it  the  fee  for  Joan 
Toast's  whoring." 

"Think  not  it  makes  no  difference  to  me"  Ebenezer  said.  "To  me  'tis 
all  the  difference!  No  man  makes  a  whore  of  the  woman  he  loves,  and  I 
love  Joan  Toast  as  never  man  loved  woman." 

"Out  on't!"  McEvoy  scoffed.  "Everything  ye  say  proves  ye  know  naught 
whatever  concerning  love.  Think  not  ye  love  Joan  Toast,  Mr.  Cooke:  'tis 
your  love  ye  love,  and  that's  but  to  say  'tis  yourself  and  not  my  Joan.  But  no 


[  74  I  1™  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

matter— love  her  or  swive  her,  so  ye  pay  your  fee.  To  no  man  save  myself 
may  she  be  aught  but  whore;  I  am  a  jealous  man,  sir,  and  though  ye  may 
purchase  my  Joan's  will  and  time  as  client,  ye  mayn't  court  it  as  lover." 

"'Sbody,  'tis  a  passing  odd  jealousy,  I  swear't!"  Ebenezer  exclaimed. 
"I  ne'er  have  heard  its  like!" 

"Which  is  to  say,  ye  know  naught  o'  love,"  said  McEvoy. 

Ebenezer  shook  his  head  and  declared,  "I  cannot  grasp  it*  Great  heavens,, 
man,  this  divine  creature,  this  vision  of  all  that's  fair  in  womankind,  this 
Joan  Toast— she  is  your  mistress!  How  is't  you  can  allow  men  e'en  to  lay 
their  eyes  upon  her,  much  less " 

"Much  less  much  more?  How  clear  it  is  ye  love  yourself  and  not  Joan! 
There's  naught  o'  the  divine  in  Joan,  my  friend.  She's  mortal  clay  and 
hath  her  share  o'  failings  like  the  rest  of  us.  As  for  this  vision  ye  speak  of, 
'tis  the  vision  ye  love,  not  the  woman.  'Twere  impossible  it  could  be  other- 
wise, for  none  o'  ye  save  I  e'en  knows  the  woman." 

"And  yet  you  play  her  pimp!" 

McEvoy  laughed.  "I  shall  tell  ye  a  thing  about  yourself,  Eben  Cooke, 
and  haply  ye'll  recall  it  now  and  again:  'tis  not  simply  love  ye  know  naught 
of,  'tis  the  entire  great  red  worldl  Your  senses  fail  ye;  your  busy  fancy  plays 
ye  false  and  fills  your  head  with  foolish  pictures.  Things  are  not  as  ye  see 
'em,  friend— the  world's  a  tangled  skein,  and  all  is  knottier  than  ye  take  it 
for.  You  understand  naught  o'  life:  I  shan't  say  more."  He  drew  a  document 
from  his  pocket  and  gave  it  to  Ebenezer.  "Read  it  with  haste  and  pay  your 
fee. 

Ebenezer  unfolded  the  paper  and  read  it  with  mounting  consternation. 
It  was  headed  To  Andrew  Cooke,  2nd,  Gent,  and  commenced  thus: 

My  dear  Sir, 

It  is  my  unhappy  duty  to  bring  to  your  notice  certain  regrettable  matters  con- 
cerning the  behavior  of  your  Son  Ebenezer  Cooke.  .  .  . 

The  note  went  on  to  declare  that  Ebenezer  was  spending  his  days  and 
nights  in  the  wine-  and  coffee-houses  and  the  theaters,  drinking,  whoring, 
and  writing  doggerel,  and  that  he  was  making  no  effort  whatever  to  find  an 
instructive  post  for  himself  as  he  had  been  directed.  It  concluded: 

I  bring  this  lamentable  state  of  affairs  to  your  attention,  not  alone  because 
it  is  your  right  as  young  Cooke's  Father  to  know  them,  but  also  because 
the  young  man  in  question  hath  added  to  his  other  vices,  that  of  luring  young 
women  into  his  bedchamber  on  promise  of  generous  remuneration,  only  to 
default  on  payment  afterwards. 

As  agent  for  one  such  defrauded  young  lady,  I  find  myself  Mr.  Cooke's  creditor 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  75  ] 

in  the  amount  of  five  guineas,  which  debt  he  refuses  to  honor  despite  the  most 
reasonable  pleas.  I  feel  certain  that,  as  the  Gentleman's  father,  you  will  be 
interested  in  the  settlement  of  this  debt  either  directly,  by  forwarding  me  the 
young  lady's  fee,  or  indirectly,  by  persuading  your  son  to  settle  it  before  the 
matter  receives  a  more  general  notoriety.  Waiting  for  communication  from 
you  upon  the  business,  I  am,  sir, 

yr  Hmble  &  Ow  Svt, 
John  McEvoy 

"'Sblood,  'tis  my  mini"  Ebenezer  murmured,  when  he  had  read  it 
through. 

"Aye,  if  posted,"  agreed  McEvoy.  "Do  but  pay  your  fee,  and  'tis  yours 
to  destroy.  Else  I  mean  to  post  it  at  once." 

Ebenezer  closed  his  eyes  and  sighed. 

"Doth  the  thing  so  much  matter  to  ye?"  smiled  McEvoy. 

"Aye.  And  doth  it  to  you?" 

"Aye.  It  must  be  whore-money." 

Ebenezer  caught  sight  of  his  poem  in  the  lantern-light.  His  features 
commenced  their  customary  dance,,  and  then,  calming,  he  turned  to  face 
McEvoy. 

"It  cannot  be,"  he  said.  "That  is  my  final  word  on't.  Post  thy  tattling 
letter  if  you  will." 

"I  shall,"  declared  McEvoy,  and  rose  to  leave. 

"And  append  this  to't,  if  you've  a  mind  to,"  Ebenezer  added.  Tearing 
off  the  signature  Ebenezer  Cooke,  Gent.,  Poet  &  Laureate  of  England,  he 
handed  McEvoy  the  poem. 

"Such  bravery,"  smiled  his  visitor,  scanning  it.  "What  is  this?  And 
Phaedra  sweet  Hippolytus  her  Step-Son?  Ye  rhyme  Endymion  and  Step- 
Son?" 

Ebenezer  paid  his  critic  no  heed.  "Twill  at  least  belie  your  charge  that 
I  write  doggerel,"  he  said. 

"Endymion  and  Step-Son"  McEvoy  repeated,  mating  a  face.  "Belie't, 
ye  say?  Marry,,  sir,  'twill  confirm  it  past  question!  Were  I  in  your  boots  I'd 
pay  my  whore-money  and  consign  letter,  Endymion,  Step-Son,  and  all  to 
the  fire."  He  returned  the  poem  to  Ebenezer.  "Will  ye  not  reconsider?" 

"Nay." 

"Ye'll  go  to  Maryland  for  a  whore?" 

"I'd  not  cross  the  street  for  a  whore,"  Ebenezer  said  firmly,  ^ut  I  shall 
cross  the  ocean  for  a  principle!  To  you,  haply,  Joan  Toast  is  a  whore;  to  me 
she  is  a  principle." 


[  y6  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"To  me  she  is  a  woman,"  replied  McEvoy.  "To  you  she's  a  hallucination." 

"What  manner  of  artist  are  you,"  scorned  Ebenezer,  "that  cannot  see 
the  monstrous  love  which  fires  me?" 

"What  manner  of  artist  you,"  retorted  McEvoy,  "that  can't  see  through 
it?  And  are  ye  in  sooth  a  virgin,  as  Joan  Toast  swears?" 

"And  a  poet,"  Ebenezer  declared  with  new  serenity.  "Now  begone,  an't 
please  you.  Do  your  worst!" 

McEvoy  scratched  his  nose  in  amusement.  "I  will,"  he  promised,  and 
went  out,  leaving  his  host  in  total  darkness. 

Ebenezer  had  remained  in  bed  throughout  the  conversation,  for  at  least 
three  reasons:  first,  he  had  retired  after  Joan  Toast's  departure  clothed  in  no 
warmer  nightshirt  than  his  own  fair  skin,  and,  not  so  much  from  prudishness 
as  from  shyness,  he  was  reluctant  to  expose  himself  before  another  man, 
even  his  valet,  though  not  always  (as  shall  be  seen)  before  a  woman;  second, 
even  had  this  not  been  the  case,  McEvoy  had  given  him  little  opportunity 
to  get  up;  and  third,  it  was  Ebenezer's  ill  fortune  to  be  endowed  with  a 
nervous  system  and  a  rational  faculty  that  operated  as  independently  of 
each  other  as  two  Londoners  of  wholly  various  temperament  who  chance 
to  inhabit  the  same  rooming  house,  but  go  blithely  each  his  separate  way 
without  thought  of  his  neighbor:  no  matter  how  firm  his  resolve,  as  regards 
both  Joan  Toast  and  his  new-found  essences,  any  strong  emotion  tended 
to  soak  him  with  sweat,  to  rob  him  of  muscle  if  not  voice,  and  to  make 
him  sick.  Given  both  the  determination  and  the  opportunity,  he  still  could 
scarcely  have  accomplished  sitting  up. 

His  bedclothes  were  wet  with  perspiration;  his  stomach  churned.  When 
McEvoy  was  gone  he  sprang  out  of  bed  to  latch  the  door  against  further 
visitors,  but  immediately  upon  standing  erect  was  overcome  by  nausea  and 
had  to  run  for  the  commode  across  the  room.  As  soon  as  he  was  able  he 
slipped  into  his  nightshirt  and  called  for  Bertrand,  who  this  time  appeared 
almost  at  once,  wigless  and  gowned.  In  one  hand  he  held  a  bare  wax  candle, 
in  the  other  its  heavy  pewter  holder, 

"The  fellow  is  gone,"  Ebenezer  said.  "  Tis  safe  to  show  thyself."  Still 
weak  in  the  knees,  he  sat  at  his  writing-desk  and  held  his  head  in  his  hands. 

"Lucky  for  hjlm  he  held  his  temperl"  Bertrand  said  grimly,  brandishing 
his  candleholder. 

Ebenezer  smiled.  "Was't  thy  intent  to  rap  on  the  wall  for  silence  if  he 
didn't?" 

"On  his  arrogant  pate,  sir!  I  stood  just  without  your  door  the  entire 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [77] 

while,  for  fear  he'd  leap  you,  and  only  jumped  inside  my  room  when  he 
left,  for  fear  he'd  spy  me." 

"For  fear  in  sooth!  Did  you  not  hear  my  call?" 

"I  own  I  did  not,  sir,  and  beg  your  pardon  for't.  Had  he  knocked  below 
like  any  gentleman,  he'd  ne'er  have  got  by  me  on  that  errand,  I  swear!  Twas 
your  voices  waked  me,  and  when  I  caught  the  drift  of  your  talk  I  dared  not 
intrude  for  fear  of  presuming,  or  leave  for  fear  he'd  assault  you/' 

"Marry,  Bertrand!"  Ebenezer  said.  "Thou'rt  the  very  model  of  a  servant! 
You  heard  all,  then?" 

"  Twas  farthest  from  my  mind  to  eavesdrop,"  Bertrand  protested,  '"but 
I  could  scarce  avoid  the  substance  oft.  What  a  cheat  and  blackguard  the 
pimp  is,  to  ask  five  guinea  for  a  tart  you  spent  not  two  hours  with!  For  five 
guinea  I  could  fill  thy  bed  with  trollops!" 

"Nay,  'tis  no  cheat;  McEvoy  is  as  honest  a  man  as  I.  Twas  a  collision  of 
principles,  not  a  haggle  over  price."  He  went  to  fetch  a  robe.  "Will  you 
make  up  the  fire,  Bertrand,  and  brew  tea  for  both  of  us?  I've  small  hope  of 
sleep  this  night," 

Bertrand  lit  the  lamp  from  his  candle,  put  fresh  wood  in  the  fireplace, 
and  blew  up  the  embers  in  the  grate. 

"How  can  the  wretch  harm  you?"  he  asked.  "  Tis  unlikely  a  pimp  could 
press  a  law-suit!" 

"He  hath  no  need  of  the  courts.  Tis  but  a  matter  of  telling  my  father  of 
the  affair,  and  off  I  go  to  Maryland." 

"For  a  simple  business  with  a  strumpet,  sir?  Marry,  thou'rt  not  a  child, 
nor  Master  Andrew  any  cleric!  I  beg  your  pardon  for't,  sir,  but  your  home- 
place  is  no  popish  convent,  if  I  may  say  so!  There's  much  goes  on  there 
that  Miss  Anna  and  yourself  know  naught  of,  nor  old  Twigg,  either,  for  all 
her  sniffs  and  snoops." 

Ebenezer  frowned.  "How's  that?  What  in  Heav'n  do  you  mean,  fellow?" 
*  "Nay,  nay,  spare  your  anger;  marry,  I  yield  to  none  in  respect  for  your 
father,  sir!  I  meant  naught  by't  at  all,  save  that  Master  Andrew  is  a  natural 
man,  if  you  follow  me,  like  thee  and  me;  a  lusty  fellow  despite  his  age,  and 
—no  disrespect  intended— he's  long  a  widower.  A  servant  sees  things  now 
and  again,  sir." 

"A  servant  sees  little  and  fancies  much,"  Ebenezer  said  sharply.  "Is't 
your  suggestion  my  father's  a  whoremonger?" 

"  'Sblood,  sir,  nothing  of  the  sort!  He's  a  great  man  and  an  honest,  is 
Master  Andrew,  and  I  pride  myself  on  having  his  confidence  these  many 
years.  Tis  no  accident  he  chose  me  to  come  to  London  with  you,  sir:  I've 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 


managed  business  of  some  consequence  for  him  ere  now  that  Mrs.  Twigg 
for  all  her  haughty  airs  knew  naught  of/' 

"See  here,  Bertrand,"  Ebenezer  demanded  with  interest,  "are  you  saying 
you've  been  my  father's  pimp?" 

"I'll  speak  no  more  oft,  sir,  an  it  please  thee,  for  it  seems  thou'rt  out  of 
sorts  and  put  an  ill  construction  on  my  words.  All  I  meant  to  say  in  the 
world  was  that  were  I  in  thy  place  I'd  not  pay  a  farthing  for  all  the 
scoundrel's  letters  to  your  father.  The  man  who  says  he  ne'er  hath  bought 
a  swiving  must  needs  be  either  fairy  or  castrato,  if  he  be  not  a  liar,  and 
Master  Andrew's  none  o'  the  three.  Let  the  rascal  say  'tis  a  vice  with  thee; 
I'll  swear  on  oath  'twas  the  first  you've  been  a-whoring,  to  my  knowledge. 
No  disgrace  in  that/'  He  gave  Ebenezer  a  cup  of  tea  and  stood  by  the  fire 
to  drink  his  own. 

"Perhaps  not,  even  if  'twere  true." 

"I'm  certain  oft,"  Bertrand  said,  gaining  confidence.  "You  had  your  tart 
as  any  man  might,  and  there's  an  end  on't  Her  pimp  asked  more  than  her 
worth,  and  so  you  sent  him  packing.  I'd  advise  thee  to  pay  him  not  a 
farthing  for  all  his  trumpeting,  and  Master  Andrew  would  agree  with  me." 

"Belike  you  misheard  me  through  the  door,  Bertrand/'  Ebenezer  said. 
"I  did  not  swive  the  girl." 

Bertrand  smiled.  "Ah,  now,  'twas  a  clever  enough  stand  to  take  with  the 
pimp,  considering  he  roused  you  up  ere  you'd  time  to  think;  but  'twill  ne'er 
fool  Master  Andrew  for  a  minute/' 

"Nay,  'tis  the  simple  truth!  And  e'en  had  I  done  so  I  would  not  pay  him 
a  ha'penny  for't.  I  love  the  girl  and  shan't  buy  her  for  a  harlot/' 

<0"N°W'  that  one  hath  the  touch  of  greatness  in  it/'  Bertrand  declared 
"Tis  worthy  of  the  cleverest  blade  in  London!  But  speaking  as  your 
adviser  -  " 

"My  adviser!  Thou'rt  my  adviser?" 

Bertrand  shifted  uneasily.  "Aye,  sir,  in  a  manner  of  speaking,  you  under- 
stand.  As  I  said  before,  I  pride  myself  that  your  father  trusts  me  _  " 

"Did  Father  send  you  to  me  as  a  governess?  Do  you  report  my  doings 
to  him?" 

t  "Nay,  nay!"  Bertrand  said  soothingly.  "I  only  meant,  as  I  said  before, 
tas  clearly  no  accident  he  named  me  and  no  other  to  attend  ye,  sir.  I  pride 
myself  'tis  a  sign  of  his  faith  in  my  judgment.  I  merely  meant  'twas  clever 
to  tell  the  punp  thou'rt  in  love  with  his  tart  and  shan't  cheapen  her;  but 
it  ye  repeat  the  tale  to  Master  Andrew  'twere  wise  to  make  clear  'twas  but 
a  gambit,  so  as  not  to  alarm  him." 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  t  79  1 

"You  don't  believe  it?  Nor  that  I  am  a  virgin?" 

"Thou'rt  a  great  tease,  sir!  I  only  question  whether  thy  father  would 
understand  raillery." 

"I  see  thou'rt  not  to  be  convinced,"  Ebenezer  said,  shaking  his  head. 
"No  matter,  I  suppose.  Tis  not  the  business  of  five  guineas  will  undo  me 
anyhow,  but  the  other." 

"Another?  Marry,  what  a  rascal!" 

"Nay,  not  another  wench;  another  business.  Haply  'twill  interest  you,  as 
my  adviser:  McEvoy's  tattling  letter  describes  my  place  at  Peter  Paggen's, 
that  hath  not  improved  these  five  years." 

Bertrand  set  down  his  cup.  "My  dear  sir,  pay  him  his  rascally  guineas." 

Ebenezer  smiled.  "What?  Permit  the  wretch  to  overcharge  me?" 

"I've  two  guinea  laid  by,  sir,  in  a  button  box  in  my  chest.  'Tis  thine 
toward  the  debt.  Only  let  me  run  to  pay  him,  ere  he  posts  his  foul  letter." 

"Thy  charity  gladdens  me,,  Bertrand,  and  thy  concern,  but  the  principle 
is  the  same.  I  shan't  pay  it." 

"Marry,  sir,  then  I  must  off  to  a  Jew  for  the  other  three  and  pay  it  myself, 
though  he  hold  liver  and  lights  for  collateral.  Master  Andrew  will  have  my 
head!" 

"  Twill  avail  thee  naught.  Tis  not  five  guineas  McEvoy  wants,  but  five 
guineas  from  my  hand  as  whore-money." 

"I'faith,  then  I'm  lost!" 

"How  so?" 

"When  Master  Andrew  learns  how  ill  ye've  minded  his  direction  he'll 
sack  me  for  certain,  to  punish  ye.  What  comfort  hath  the  adviser?  If  things 
go  well  'tis  the  student  gets  the  praise;  if  ill,  'tis  the  adviser  gets  the  blame/' 

"Tis  in  sooth  a  thankless  office,"  Ebenezer  said  sympathetically.  He 
yawned  and  stretched.  "Let  us  sleep  out  the  balance  of  the  night,  now.  Thy 
conversation  is  a  marvelous  soporific." 

Bertrand  showed  no  sign  of  understanding  the  remark,  but  he  rose  to 
leave. 

"You'll  see  me  sacked,  then,  ere  you  pay  the  debt?" 

"I  doubt  me  such  a  priceless  adviser  will  be  sacked,"  Ebenezer  replied. 
"Belike  he'll  send  thee  off  with  me  to  Maryland,  to  advise  me." 

"Gramercy,  sir!  Thou'rt  jesting!" 

"Not  at  all." 

"  'Sheart!  To  perish  at  the  hands  of  salvages!" 

"Ah,  as  for  that,  two  of  us  can  fight  'em  better  than  one.  Good  night, 
now."  So  saying,  he  sent  Bertrand  terrified  to  his  room  and  attempted,  by 


[  80  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

a  childish  habit  he  had  of  rolling  from  side  to  side  in  his  bed,  to  lull  himself 
to  sleep.  But  his  fancy  was  too  much  occupied  with  versions  of  the  imminent 
confrontation  of  his  father  and  himself—versions  the  details  of  which  he 
altered  and  perfected  with  an  artist's  dispassionate  care— to  allow  him  more 
than  a  restless  somnolence. 

As  it  turned  out,  there  was  no  confrontation  at  all,  though  St.  Giles 
was  but  an  easy  carriage  ride  from  where  he  lived.  On  the  evening  of  the 
second  day  after  McEvoy's  threat,  a  messenger  came  to  Ebenezer's  room 
(from  which,  having  abandoned  Peter  Paggen  entirely,  he  had  scarcely 
ventured  in  two  days)  with  twelve  pounds  in  cash  and  a  brief  letter  from 
Andrew: 

My  Son:  It  is  truly  said,  that  Children  are  a  certain  Care,  and  but  an  uncertain 
Comfort.  Suffice  it  to  say,  I  have  learned  of  your  vicious  Condition;  I  shall  not 
sully  myself  by  witnessing  it  firsthand.  You  shall  on  Pain  of  total  and  entire 
Disinheritance  and  Disownment  take  Ship  for  Maryland  on  the  Bark  Poseidon, 
sailing  from  Plimouth  for  Piscataway  on  April  i,  there  to  proceed  straightway 
to  Cookes  poynt  and  assume  Managership  of  Maiden.  It  is  my  intention  to 
make  a  final  Sojourn  in  the  Plantations  perhaps  a  Year  hence,  and  I  pray  that 
at  that  Time  I  shall  find  a  prosperous  Maiden  and  a  regenerate  Son:  an  Estate 
worth  bequeathing  and  an  Heir  worth  the  Bequest.  It  is  your  final  Chance. 

Your  Father 

Ebenezer  was  more  numbed  than  stunned  by  the  letter,  for  he'd  antic- 
ipated some  such  ultimatum. 

"Marry,  'tis  but  a  week  hence!'7  he  reflected  with  alarm.  The  notion 
of  leaving  his  companions  just  when,  having  determined  his  essence,  he 
felt  prepared  to  begin  enjoying  them,  distressed  him  quite;  whatever  fugitive 
attraction  the  colonies  had  held  for  him  fled  before  the  prospect  of  actually 
going  there. 

He  showed  the  letter  to  Bertrand. 

"Ah,  'tis  as  I  thought:  thy  principles  have  undone  me,  I  see  no  summons 
here  to  my  old  post  in  St.  Giles," 

"Haply  'twill  come  yet,  Bertrand,  by  another  messenger/' 

But  the  servant  appeared  unconsoled,  TfaithI  Back  to  old  Twigg!  I  had 
almost  rather  brave  the  salvage  Indians." 

"I  would  not  see  thee  suffer  on  my  account,"  Ebenezer  declared,  "I 
shall  pay  your  April's  wages,  and  you  may  start  today  to  seek  another  post" 

The  valet  seemed  scarcely  able  to  believe  such  generosity,  "Bless  ye,  sir! 
Thou'rt  every  inch  a  gentlemanl" 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  8l  ] 

Ebenezer  dismissed  him  and  returned  to  his  own  problem.  What  was 
he  to  do?  During  most  of  that  day  he  anxiously  examined  various  faces  of 
himself  in  his  looking  glass;  during  most  of  the  next  he  composed  stanzas 
to  Gloom  and  Melancholy,  after  the  manner  of  II  Penseroso  (though 
briefer  and,  he  decided,  of  a  different  order  of  impact);  the  third  he 
spent  abed,  getting  up  only  to  feed  and  relieve  himself.  He  refused 
Bertrand's  occasional  proffered  services.  A  change  came  over  him:  his  beard 
went  unshaved,  his  drawers  unchanged,  his  feet  unwashed.  How  take  ship 
for  the  wild  untutored  colonies,  now  he  knew  himself  a  poet  and  was  ready 
to  fire  London  with  his  art?  And  yet  how  make  shift  unaided  in  London, 
penniless,  in  defiance  of  his  father  and  at  the  expense  of  his  inheritance? 

"What  am  I  to  do?"  he  asked  himself,  lying  unkempt  in  his  bed  on  the 
fourth  day.  It  was  a  misty  March  morning,  though  a  warm  and  sunny  one, 
and  the  glaring  haze  from  outside  caused  his  head  to  ache.  The  bedclothes 
were  no  longer  clean,  nor  was  his  nightshirt.  His  late  fire  was  ashed  and 
cold.  Eight  o'clock  passed,  and  nine,  but  he  could  not  resolve  to  get  up. 
Once  only,  as  a  mere  experiment,  he  held  his  breath  in  order  to  try 
whether  he  could  make  himself  die,  for  he  saw  no  alternative;  but  after 
a  half  minute  he  drew  air  frantically  and  did  not  try  again.  His  stomach 
rumbled,  and  his  sphincters  signaled  their  discomfort.  He  could  think  of 
no  reason  for  rising  from  the  bed,  nor  any  for  remaining  there.  Ten  o'clock 
came  and  went. 

Near  noon,  running  his  eyes  about  the  room  for  the  hundredth  time 
that  morning,  he  caught  sight  of  something  that  had  previously  escaped 
him:  a  scrap  of  paper  on  the  floor  beside  his  writing-desk.  Recognizing  it, 
he  climbed  out  of  bed  without  thinking,  fetched  it  up,  and  squinted  at 
it  in  the  glare, 

Ebenezer  Cooke,  Gent.,  "Poet  &  Laureate.  .  .  ; 

The  rest  of  the  epithet  was  torn  off,  but  despite  its  loss,  or  perhaps  be- 
cause of  it,  Ebenezer  was  suddenly  inspired  with  such  a  pleasant  resolve 
that  his  spirits  rose  on  the  instant,  driving  three  days'  gloom  before  them 
as  a  March  breeze  drives  away  squalls.  His  spine  thrilled;  his  face  flushed. 
Lighting  on  a  piece  of  letter  paper,  he  addressed  a  salutation  directly  to 
Charles  Calvert,  Third  Lord  Baltimore  and  Second  Lord  Proprietary  of 
the  Province  of  Maryland.  Your  Excellency,  he  wrote,  with  the  same  sure 
hand  of  some  nights  before: 

It  is  my  Intention  to  take  Ship  for  Maryland  upon  the  Bark  Poseidon  a  few 
Days  hence,  for  the  Purpose  of  managing  my  Father's  Property,  called  Cooke' s 
Point,  in  Dorchester.  Yr  LdshP  will  do  me  a  great  Honour,  and  Himself  no 


[  82  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

ill  Turn  it  may  be,  by  granting  me  an  Audience  before  I  embark,  in  order  that 
I  might  discuss  certain  Plans  of  mine,  such  that  I  venture  will  not  altogether 
displease  Yr  LdsllP,  and  in  order  farther  that  I  might  learn,  from  Him  most 
qualified  to  say,  where  in  the  Province  to  seek  the  congenial  Company  of 
Men  of  Breeding  and  Refinement,  with  whom  to  share  my  leisure  Hours  in 
those  most  civiliz'd  Pursuits  of  Poetry,  Music  and  Conversation,  without  which 
Life  were  a  Salvag'ry,  and  scarce  endurable.  Respectfully  therefore  awaiting 
Yr  LdshP«  Reply,  I  am, 

Yr  Most  HmWe  &  Obt  Svt, 
Ebenezer  Cooke 

And  after  but  a  moment's  deliberation  he  appended  boldly  to  his  name 
the  single  word  Poet,  deeming  it  a  pointless  modesty  to  deny  or  conceal 
his  very  essence. 

"By  Heav'n!"  he  exclaimed  to  himself,  looking  back  on  his  recent 
doldrums.  "I  had  near  slipped  once  again  into  the  Abyss!  Methinks  'tis  a 
peril  I  am  prone  to:  'tis  my  Nemesis,  and  marks  me  off  from  other  men 
as  did  the  Furies  poor  Orestes!  So  be't:  at  least  I  know  my  dread  Erinyes 
for  what  they  are  and  will  henceforth  mark  their  approach  betimes.  What 
is  more— thank  Joan  Toast!— I  now  know  how  to  shield  myself  from  their 
assault/'  He  consulted  his  mirror  and  after  some  false  starts,  reflected  this 
reflection:  "Life!  I  must  fling  myself  into  Life,  escape  to't,  as  Orestes  to 
the  temple  of  Apollo.  Action  be  my  sanctuary;  Initiative  my  shield!  I  shall 
smite  ere  I  am  smitten;  clutch  Life  by  his  horns!  Patron  of  poets,  thy 
temple  be  the  Entire  Great  Real  World,  whereto  I  run  with  arms  a-stretch: 
may't  guard  me  from  the  Pit,  and  may  my  Erinyes  sink  'neath  the  vertigo 
I  flee  to  be  transformed  to  mild  Eumenides!" 

He  then  reread  his  letter. 

"Aye,"  he  said,  "read  and  rejoice,  Baltimore!  Tis  not  every  day  your 
province  is  blessed  with  a  poet.  But  faith!  Tis  already  the  twenty-seventh 
of  the  month!  I  must  deliver't  in  person  at  once." 

Tius  resolved,  Ebenezer  called  for  Bertrand  and,  finding  him  not  at 
home,  doffed  his  malodorous  nightshirt  and  proceeded  to  dress  himself. 
Not  bothering  to  trouble  his  skin  with  water,  he  slipped  on  his  best  linen 
drawers,  short  ones  without  stirrups,  heavily  perfumed,  and  a  clean  white 
day-shirt  of  good  frieze  holland,  voluminous  and  soft,  with  a  narrow  neck- 
band, full  sleeves  caught  at  the  wrists  with  black  satin  ribbon,  and  small, 
modestly  frilled  cuifs.  Next  he  pulled  on  a  pair  of  untrimmed  black  velvet 
knee  breeches,  close  in  the  thighs  and  full  in  the  seat,  and  then  his  knitted 
white  silk  hose,  which,  following  the  very  latest  fashion,  he  left  rolled  above 
the  knee  in  order  to  display  the  black  ribbon  garters  that  held  them  up. 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  83  ] 

On  then  with  his  shoes,  a  fortnight  old,  of  softest  black  Spanish  leather, 
square-toed,  high-heeled,  and  buckled,  their  cupid-bow  tongues  turned 
down  to  flash  a  fetching  red  lining.  Respectful  of  both  the  warmth  and 
the  fashion  of  the  day,  he  left  his  waistcoat  where  it  hung  and  donned 
next  a  coat  of  plum-colored  serge  lined  with  silver-gray  prunella— the  great 
cuffs  turned  back  to  show  alternate  stripes  of  plum  and  silver— collarless, 
tight-shouldered,  and  full-skirted,  which  he  left  unbuttoned  from  neck  to 
hem  to  show  off  shirt  and  cravat.  This  latter  was  of  white  muslin,  the  long 
pendant  ends  finished  in  lace,  and  Ebenezer  tied  it  loosely,  twisted  the 
pendants  ropewise,  and  fetched  up  the  ends  to  pass  through  the  top  left 
buttonhole  of  his  open  coat,  Steinkirk  fashion.  Then  came  his  short-sword 
in  its  beribboned  scabbard,  slung  low  on  his  left  leg  from  a  well-tooled  belt, 
and  after  it  his  long,  tight-curled  white  periwig,  which  he  powdered  gener- 
ously and  fitted  with  care  on  his  pate,  in  its  natural  state  hairless  as  an  egg. 
Nothing  now  remained  but  to  top  the  periwig  with  his  round-crowned, 
broad-brimmed,  feather-edged  black  beaver,  draw  on  his  gauntlet  gloves  of 
fawn  leather  stitched  in  gold  and  silver  (the  cuffs  edged  in  white  lace 
and  lined  with  yellow  silk),  fetch  up  his  long  cane  (looped  with  plum- 
and-white  ribbons  like  those  on  his  scabbard),  and  behold  the  finished 
product  in  his  looking  glass. 

"  'Sbodikins!"  he  cried  for  very  joy.  "What  a  rascal!  En  garde,  London! 
Look  lively,  Life!  Have  at  ye!" 

But  there  was  little  time  to  admire  the  spectacle:  Ebenezer  hurried  out 
to  the  street,  hired  himself  the  services  of  barber  and  bootblack,  ate  a  hearty 
meal,  and  took  hack  at  once  for  the  London  house  of  Charles  Calvert, 
Lord  Baltimore. 


9:    EBENEZER'S  AUDIENCE  WITH  LORD  BALTIMORE, 
AND  HIS  INGENIOUS  PROPOSAL  TO  THAT  GENTLEMAN 


TO  HIS  EXTREME  DELIGHT  AND  CONSIDERABLE  SURPRISE,   IN  A  MATTER 

of  minutes  after  Ebenezer  had  presented  himself  at  Lord  Baltimore's  town 
house  and  had  sent  his  message  in  by  a  house-servant,  word  was  sent  back 
to  him  that  Charles  would  receive  the  visitor  in  his  library,  and  Ebenezer 
was  ushered  not  long  afterwards  into  the  great  man's  presence. 
Lord  Baltimore  was  seated  in  an  enormous  leather  chair  beside  the  hearth, 


[  84  ]  THE   SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

and,  though  he  did  not  rise  to  greet  his  visitor,  he  motioned  cordially  for 
Ebenezer  to  take  the  chair  opposite  him.  He  was  an  old  man,  rather  small- 
framed  and  tight-skinned  despite  his  age,  with  a  prominent  nose,  a  thin 
white  mustache,  and  large,  unusually  bright  brown  eyes;  he  looked,  it  oc- 
curred to  Ebenezer,  like  an  aged  and  ennobled  Henry  Burlingame.  He 
was  dressed  more  formally  and  expensively  than  Ebenezer,  but— as  the  latter 
observed  at  once— not  so  fashionably:  in  fact,  some  ten  years  behind  the 
times.  His  wig  was  a  campaigner,  full  but  not  extremely  long,  its  tight  curls 
terminating  before  either  shoulder  in  pendulous  corkscrewed  dildos;  his 
cravat  was  of  loosely-tied,  lace-edged  linen;  his  coat  was  rose  brocade  lined 
with  white  alamode,  looser  in  the  waist  and  shorter  in  the  skirt  than  was 
the  current  preference,  and  the  unflapped  pockets  were  cut  horizontally 
rather  than  vertically  and  set  low  to  the  hem.  The  sleeves  reached  nearly 
to  the  wrists,  returned  a  few  inches  to  show  their  white  linings  stitched  in 
silver,  and  opened  at  the  back  with  rounded  hound's-ear  corners.  The 
side  vents,  cut  hip  high,  were  edged  with  silver  buttons  and  sham  button- 
holes, and  the  right  shoulder  boasted  a  knot  of  looped  silver  ribbons.  Be- 
neath the  coat  were  a  waistcoat  of  indigo  armozine,  which  he  wore  com- 
pletely buttoned,  and  silk  breeches  to  match:  one  saw  no  more  of  his 
shirt  than  the  dainty  cuffs  of  white  cobweb  lawn.  What  is  more,  his  garters 
were  hidden  under  the  roll  of  his  hose,  and  the  tongues  of  his  shoes  were 
high  and  square.  He  held  Ebenezer's  letter  in  his  hand  and  squinted  at 
it  in  the  dim  light  from  the  heavily-curtained  windows  as  though  re-exam- 
ining its  contents. 

"Ebenezer  Cooke,  is't?"  he  said  by  way  of  commencing  the  conversa- 
tion. "Of  Cooke's  Point,  in  Dorchester?"  His  voice,  while  still  in  essence 
forceful,  had  that  uncertain  flutter  which  betrays  the  onset  of  senility. 
Ebenezer  bowed  slightly  in  acknowledgment  and  took  the  chair  indicated 
by  his  host. 

"Andrew  Cooke's  son?"  asked  Charles,  peering  at  his  guest. 

"The  same,  sir,"  Ebenezer  replied, 

"I  knew  Andrew  Cooke  in  Maryland,"  reflected  Charles.  "If  memory 
serves  me  rightly,  'twas  in  1661,  the  year  my  father  made  me  Governor  of 
the  Province,  that  I  licensed  Andrew  Cooke  to  trade  there.  But  I've  not 
seen  him  for  many  years  and  haply  wouldn't  know  him  now,  or  he  me." 
He  sighed.  "Life's  a  battle  that  scars  us  all,  victor  and  vanquished  alike." 

"Aye,"  Ebenezer  agreed  readily,  "but  'tis  the  stuff  of  living  to  fight  it, 
and  take't  by  storm,  and  your  good  soldier  wears  his  scars  with  pride,  win 
or  lose,  so  he  got  'em  bravely  in  honest  combat." 

"I  doubt  not,"  murmured  Charles,  and  retreated  to  the  letter.  "How's 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  85  ] 

this,  now/'  he  remarked:  "Ebenezer  Cooke,  Poet.  What  might  that  mean, 
pray?  Can  it  be  you  earn  your  bread  by  versifying?  Or  you're  a  kind  of 
minstrel,  belike,  that  wanders  about  the  countryside  a-begging  and  recit- 
ing? Tis  a  trade  I  know  little  of,  I  confess't" 

"Poet  I  am,"  answered  Ebenezer  with  a  blush,  "and  no  mean  one  it 
may  be;  but  not  a  penny  have  I  earned  by't,  nor  will  I  ever.  The  muse 
loves  him  who  courts  her  for  herself  alone,  and  scorns  the  man  who'd  pimp 
her  for  his  purse's  sake." 

"I  daresay,  I  daresay,"  said  Charles.  "But  is-t  not  customary,  when  a  man 
tack  some  bunting  to  his  name  to  wave  like  a  pendant  in  the  public  breeze, 
that  he  show  thereby  his  calling  and  advertise  it  to  the  world?  Now,  did 
I  read  here  Ebenezer  Cooke,  Tinker,  I'd  likely  hire  you  to  patch  my  pots; 
if  Ebenezer  Cooke,  Physician,  I'd  send  you  the  rounds  of  my  household, 
to  purge  and  tonic  the  lot;  if  Ebenezer  Cooke,  Gentleman,  br  Esquire,  I'd 
presume  you  not  for  hire,,  and  ring  in  my  man  to  fetch  you  brandy.  But 
Poet,  now:  Ebenezer  Cooke,  Poet.  What  trade  is  that?  How  doth  one  deal 
with  you?  What  work  doth  one  put  you  to?" 

"  Tis  that  very  matter  I  wish  to  speak  of,"  said  Ebenezer,  unruffled  by 
the  twitting.  "Know,  sir,  that  though  'tis  no  man's  living  to  woo  the  muse, 
'tis  yet  some  men's  calling,  and  so  'twas  not  recklessly  I  tacked  on  my  name 
the  title  Poet:  'tis  of  no  moment  what  I  do;  poet  is  what  I  am." 

"As  another  might  sign  himself  Gentleman?"  asked  Charles. 

"Precisely." 

"Then  'tis  not  for  hire  you  sought  me  out?  You  crave  no  employment?* 

"Hire  I  do  not  seek,"  Ebenezer  declared.  "For  as  the  lover  craves  of  his 
beloved  naught  save  her  favor,  which  to  him  is  reward  sufficient,  so  craves 
the  poet  no  more  from  his  muse  than  happy  inspiration;  and  as  the  fruit 
of  lover's  labor  is  a  bedded  bride,  and  the  sign  oft  a  crimsoned  sheet,  so 
the  poet's  prize  is  a  well-turned  verse,  and  the  sign  thereof  a  printed  page. 
To  be  sure,  if  haply  the  lass  bring  with  her  some  dowry,  'twill  not  be  scorned, 
nor  will  what  pence  come  poetwards  from,  his  publishing.  Howbeit,  these 
are  mere  accidents,  happy  but  unsought." 

"Why,  then,"  said  Charles,  fetching  two  pipes  from  a  rack  over  the  fire- 
place, "I  believe  we  may  call't  established  that  you  are  not  for  hire.  Let's 
have  a  pipe  on't,  and  then  pray  state  your  business." 

The  two  men  filled  and  lit  their  pipes,  and  Ebenezer  returned  to  his 
theme. 

"Hire  I  care  naught  for,"  he  repeated,  "but  as  for  employment,  there's 
another  matter  quite,  and  the  very  sum  and  substance  of  my  visit.  You 
enquired  a  moment  past,  What  trade  is  the  poet's,  and  to  what  work 


[86]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

shall  he  be  put?  For  answer  let  me  ask  you,  sir,  by'r  leave— would  the  world 
at  large  know  aught  of  Agamemnon,  or  fierce  Achilles,  or  crafty  Odysseus, 
or  the  cuckold  Menelaus,  or  that  entire  circus  of  strutting  Greeks  and 
Trojans,  had  not  great  Homer  rendered  'em  to  verse?  How  many  battles 
of  greater  import  are  lost  in  the  dust  of  history,  d'you  think,  for  want  of 
a  poet  to  sing  'em  to  the  ages?  Full  many  a  Helen  blooms  one  spring  and 
goes  to  the  worm  forgot;  but  let  a  Homer  paint  her  in  the  grand  cosmetic 
of  his  verse,  and  her  beauty  boils  the  blood  of  twenty  centuries!  Where  lies 
a  Prince's  greatness,  I  ask  you?  In  his  feats  on  the  field  of  battle,  or  the 
downy  field  of  love?  Why,  'tis  but  a  generation's  work  to  forget  'em  for 
good  and  all!  Nay,  I  say  'tis  not  in  the  deeds  his  greatness  lies,  but  in 
their  telling.  And  who's  to  tell  'em?  Not  the  historian,  for  be  he  ne'er  so 
dev'lish  accurate,  as  to  how  many  hoplites  had  Epaminondas  when  he 
whipped  the  Spartans  at  Leuctra,  or  what  was  the  Christian  name  of 
Charlemagne's  barber,  yet  nobody  reads  him  but  his  fellow  chroniclers  and 
his  students— the  one  from  envy,  t'other  from  necessity.  But  place  deeds 
and  doer  in  the  poet's  hands,  and  what  comes  oft?  Lo,  the  crook'd  nose 
grows  straight,  the  lean  shank  fleshes  out,  French  pox  becomes  a  bedsore; 
shady  deeds  shed  their  tarnish,  bright  grow  brighter;  and  the  whole  is 
musicked  into  tuneful  rhyme,  arresting  conceit,  and  stirring  meter,  so's  to 
stick  in  the  head  like  Greensleeves  and  move  the  heart  like  Scripture!" 

"Tis  clear  as  day,"  said  Charles  with  a  smile,  "that  the  poet  is  a  useful 
member  of  a  Prince's  train." 

"And  what's  true  for  a  prince  is  true  for  a  principality,"  Ebenezer  went 
on,  stirred  by  his  own  eloquence.  "What  were  Greece  without  Homer, 
Rome  without  Virgil,  to  sing  their  glories?  Heroes  die,  statues  break,  em- 
pires crumble;  but  your  Iliad  laughs  at  time,  and  a  verse  from  Virgil  still 
rings  true  as  the  day  'twas  struck.  Who  renders  virtue  palatable  like  the  poet, 
and  vice  abhorrent,  seeing  he  alone  provides  both  precept  and  example? 
Who  else  bends  nature  to  suit  his  fancy  and  paints  men  better  or  worse 
to  suit  his  purpose?  What  sings  like  lyric,  praises  like  panegyric,  mourns 
like  elegiac,  wounds  like  Hudibrastic  verse?" 

"Naught,  that  I  can  name,"  said  Charles,  "and  you  have  quite  persuaded 
me  that  a  man's  most  useful  friend  and  fearsome  foe  is  the  poet.  Prithee 
now,  fellow,  dispense  with  farther  preamble  and  deliver  me  your  business 
plainly/' 

"Very  well,"  said  Ebenezer,  planting  his  cane  between  his  knees  and 
gripping  its  handle  firmly.  "Would  you  say,  sir,  that  Maryland  boasts  a  sur- 
feit of  poets?" 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  87  ] 

"A  surfeit  of  poets?"  repeated  Charles,  and  drew  thoughtfully  upon  his 
pipe.  "Well,  now,  since  you  ask,  I  think  not.  Nay,  in  good  faith  I  must 
confess,  entre  nous,  there  is  no  surfeit  of  poets  in  Maryland.  Not  a  bit  oft. 
Why,  Fd  wager  one  might  walk  the  length  and  breadth  of  St.  Mary's  City 
on  a  May  afternoon  and  not  cross  the  tracks  of  a  single  poet,  they're  that 
rare." 

"As  I  reckoned/'  said  Ebenezer.  "Would  you  go  so  far  as  to  suppose, 
even,  that  I  might  be  hard  put  to't,  once  I  establish  myself  in  Maryland, 
to  find  me  four  or  five  fellow-planters  to  match  a  couplet  with,  or  trade 
a  rhyme?" 

"  Tis  not  impossible,"  admitted  Charles. 

"I  guessed  as  much.  And  now,  sir,  if  I  might:  would't  be  mere  gross 
presumption  and  vanity  for  me  to  suppose,  that  haply  I  shall  be  the  ab- 
solute first,  premier,  unprecedented,  and  genuine  original  poet  to  set  foot 
on  the  soil  of  Terra  Marine?  First  to  pay  court  to  the  Maryland  Muse?" 

"  'Tis  not  in  me  to  deny,"  replied  Charles,  "that  should  there  breathe 
such  a  wench  as  this  Maryland  Muse,  you  may  well  have  her  maidenhead." 

"Faith!"  cried  Ebenezer  joyously.  "Only  think  on't!  A  province,  an  en- 
tire people— all  unsung!  What  deeds  forgot,  what  gallant  men  and  women 
lost  to  time!  'Sblood,  it  dizzies  me!  Trees  felled,  towns  raised,  a  very  nation 
planted  in  the  wilds!  Foundings,  strugglings,  triumphs!  Why,  'tis  work  for 
a  Virgil!  Think,  m'lord,  only  think  on't:  the  noble  house  of  Calvert,  the 
Barons  Baltimore— builders  of  nations,  bringers  of  light,  fructifiers  of  the 
wilderness!  A  glorious  house  and  history  still  unmusicked  for  the  world's 
delight!  Marry,  'tis  virgin  territory!" 

"Many's  the  fine  thing  to  be  said  of  Maryland,"  Charles  agreed.  "But 
to  speak  plainly,  I  fear  me  that  virgins  are  rare  as  poets  there." 

"Prithee  do  not  jest!"  begged  Ebenezer.  "  'Twere  an  epic  such  as  ne'er 
was  penned!  The  Marylandiad,  b'm'faith!" 

"How's  that?"  For  all  his  teasing  manner,  Charles  had  grown  thoughtful 
in  the  course  of  Ebenezer's  outburst. 

"The  Marylandtad!"  repeated  Ebenezer,  and  declaimed  as  from  a  title- 
page:  "An  epic  to  out-epic  epics:  the  history  of  the  princely  house  of  Charles 
Calvert,  Lord  Baltimore  and  Lord  Proprietary  of  the  Province  of  Maryland, 
relating  the  heroic  founding  of  that  province!  The  courage  and  persever- 
ance of  her  settlers  in  battling  barb'rous  nature  and  fearsome  salvage  to 
wrest  a  territory  from  the  wild  and  transform  it  to  an  earthly  paradise!  The 
majesty  and  enlightenment  of  her  proprietors,  who  like  kingly  gardeners 
fostered  the  tender  seeds  of  civilization  in  their  rude  soil,  and  so  hus- 


[  88  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

banded  and  cultivated  them  as  to  bring  to  fruit  a  Maryland  beauteous  be- 
yond description;  verdant,  fertile,  prosperous,  and  cultured;  peopled  with 
brave,  men  and  virtuous  women,  healthy,  handsome,  and  refined:  a  Mary- 
land, in  short,  splendid  in  her  past,  majestic  in  her  present,  and  glorious 
in  her  future^  the  brightest  jewel  in  the  fair  crown  of  England,  owned  and 
ruled  to  the  benefit  of  both  by  a  family  second  to  none  in  the  recorded 
history  of  the  universal  world— the  whole  done  into  heroic  couplets,  printed 
on  linen,  bound  in  calf,  stamped  in  gold"— here  Ebenezer  bowed  with  a 
flourish  of  his  beaver— "and  dedicated  to  Your  Lordship!" 

"And  signed?"  asked  Charles. 

Ebenezer  rose  to  his  feet  and  beamed  upon  his  host,  one  hand  on  his 
cane  and  the  other  on  his  hip. 

"Signed  Ebenezer  Cooke,  Gentleman,"  he  replied:  "Poet  and  Laureate 
of  the  Province  of  Maryland!" 

"Ah,"  said  Charles.  "Poet  and  Laureate,  now:  'tis  a  new  bit  of  bunting 
you'd  add  to  your  name." 

"Only  think  how  'twould  redound  to  Your  Lordship's  credit,"  urged 
Ebenezer.  "The  appointment  would  prove  at  a  single  stroke  both  the 
authority  and  the  grace  of  your  rule,  for  'twould  give  the  Province  the 
flavor  of  a  realm  and  the  refinement  of  a  court  to  have  a  bona  fide  laureate 
sing  her  praises  and  record  in  verse  her  great  moments;  and  as  for  the 
Marylandiad  itself,  'twould  immortalize  the  Barons  Baltimore,  and  make 
Aeneases  of  'em  all!  Moreover,  'twould  paint  the  Province  as  she  stands 
today  in  such  glowing  colors  as  to  lure  the  finest  families  of  England  to 
settle  there;  'twould  spur  the  inhabitants  to  industry  and  virtue,  to  keep 
the  picture  true  as  I  paint  it;  in  sum,  'twould  work  to  the  enhancement 
of  both  the  quality  and  the  value  of  the  colony,  and  so  proportionately 
ennoble,  empower,  and  enrich  him  who  owns  and  rules  her!  Is't  not  a 
formidable  string  of  achievements?" 

At  this  Charles  burst  into  such  a  fit  of  laughing  that  he  choked  on  his 
pipe  smoke,  watered  at  the  eyes,  and  came  near  to  losing  his  campaigner; 
it  required  the  spirited  back-thumping  of  two  body  servants,  who  stood 
nearby,  to  restore  his  composure. 

"Oh  dear!"  he  cried  at  last,  daubing  at  his  eyes  with  a  handkerchief.  "An 
achievement  indeed,  to  ennoble  and  enrich  him  who  rules  Maryland!  I'm 
sorry  to  say,  Master  Poet,  that  that  fellow  already  maintains  himself  a 
laureate  to  sing  him!  There's  no  ennobling  him  beyond  his  present  station, 
and  as  for  enriching  him,  I  venture  I've  done  my  share  of  that  and  more! 
Oh  dear!  Oh  dear!" 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  89  ] 

"How  is  that?"  asked  Ebenezer,  all  bewildered. 

''My  good  man,  is't  that  you  were  born  yesterday?  Know  you  naught  of 
the  true  state  o'  the  world?" 

"Surely  'tis  thy  province!"  exclaimed  Ebenezer. 

"Surely  'twas  my  province,"  corrected  Charles  with  a  wry  smile,  "and 
the  Barons  Baltimore  were  her  True  and  Absolute  Lords  Proprietary,  more 
often  than  not,  from  the  day  she  was  chartered  till  just  three  years  ago.  I 
get  my  quit-rents  yet,  and  a  miserable  bit  of  port  revenue,  but  for  the  rest, 
'tis  King  William's  province  these  days,  sir,  and  Queen  Mary's,  not  mine. 
Why  not  take  your  proposal  to  the  Crown?" 

"Marry,  I  knew  naught  oft!"  said  Ebenezer.  "Might  I  ask  for  what  cause 
your  Lordship  retired  from  rule?  Was't  haply  your  desire  to  spend  quietly 
the  evening  of  life?  Or  belike  'twas  sheer  devotion  to  the  Crown?  Egad, 
what  spaciousness  of  character!" 

"Stay,  stay,"  cried  Charles,  shaking  again  with  mirth,  "else  I  must  summon 
my  man  again  to  pound  the  lights  out  of  me!  Hey!  Ha!"  He  sighed  deeply 
and  beat  his  chest  with  the  flat  of  his  hand.  When  he  had  regained  control 
of  himself  he  said,  "I  see  you  are  all  innocent  of  Maryland's  history,  and 
will  plunge  into  a  place  not  knowing  the  whys  and  wherefores  oft,  or  who 
stands  for  what.  You  came  to  do  me  a  favor,  so  you  declare,  and— by 
Heav'n!— enrich  and  ennoble  me:  very  well,  then,  permit  me  to  do  you 
one  in  return,  which  will  add  not  a  farthing  to  your  estate,  but  may  some- 
day haply  save  you  another  such  wasted  hour:  by  your  leave,  Mister  Cooke, 
I  shall  sketch  you  shortly  the  history  of  this  Maryland,  which,,  like  the  gift 
of  a  salvage,  was  first  bestowed  and  then  snatched  back.  Will  you  hear  it?" 

"  'Tis  my  pleasure  and  honor,"  answered  Ebenezer,  who,  however,  was 
too  crestfallen,  after  Charles's  reaction  to  his  proposal,  to  relish  greatly  a 
lesson  in  history. 


10:    A   BRIEF   RELATION   OF   THE    MARYLAND 
PALATINATE,    ITS   ORIGINS   AND    STRUGGLES   FOR 
SURVIVAL,    AS    TOLD    TO    EBENEZER    BY    HIS    HOST 


"  'TIS  TRULY  SAID,"  CHARLES  BEGAN,  "UNEASY  LIES  THE  HEAD  THAT  WEARS 

the  crown,  inasmuch  as  Envy  and  covetoiLsne$s  are  ne'er  satisfied.  Mary- 
land's mine  by  law  and  by  right,  yet  her  history  is  the  tale  of  my  family's 


[90]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

struggle  to  preserve  her,  and  of  the  plots  of  countless  knaves  to  take  her 
from  us— chief  among  them  Black  Bill  Claiborne  and  a  very  antichrist 
named  John  Coode,  who  plagues  me  yet. 

"My  grandfather,  George  Calvert,  as  you  may  know,  was  introduced  to 
the  court  of  James  I  as  private  secretary  to  Sir  Robert  Cecil,  and  after 
that  great  man's  death  was  appointed-clerk  to  the  Privy  Council  and  twice 
Commissioner  to  Ireland.  He  was  knighted  in  1617,  and  when  Sir  Thomas 
Lake  was  sacked  as  Secretary  of  State  (owing  to  the  free  tongue  of  his 
wife),  my  grandfather  was  named  to  replace  him,  despite  the  fact  that 
the  Duke  of  Buckingham,  James's  favorite,  wanted  the  post  for  his  friend 
Carleton,  the  Ambassador  to  the  Netherlands.  I  have  cause  to  believe  that 
Buckingham  took  this  as  an  affront— the  more  because  James  sent  him 
personally  to  notify  Grandfather  of  his  preferment— and  became  the  first 
significant  enemy  to  our  house. 

"What  an  ill  time  to  be  Secretary  of  State!  Twas  in  1619,  remember: 
the  Thirty  Years'  War  had  just  commenced  and  was  spreading  all  over 
the  continent;  James  had  emptied  our  treasury;  we  hadn't  a  single  strong 
ally!  'Twas  a  choice  'twixt  Spain  and  France,  and  to  choose  one  was  to 
alienate  the  other.  Buckingham  favored  Spain,  and  my  grandfather  sup- 
ported him.  What  could  seem  wiser,  I  ask  you?  Marrying  Prince  Charles  to 
the  Infanta  Maria  would  bind  Spain  to  us  forever;  Maria's  dowry  would 
fill  the  treasury;  and  by  supporting  the  King  and  Buckingham  my  grand- 
father would  prove  his  loyalty  to  the  one  and  shame  the  resentment  of 
the  other!  I  firmly  believe,  sir,  that  were  I  in  his  place  I  should  have  chosen 
the  same  course.  The  match  was  unpopular,  to  be  sure,  among  the  Prot- 
estants, and  Grandfather  was  given  the  odious  chore  (I  think  at  Bucking- 
ham's urging)  of  defending  it  to  a  hostile  Parliament— you  can  be  sure 
his  enemies  multiplied!  But  'twas  the  part  of  wisdom:  no  man  could  have 
guessed  the  treachery  of  King  Philip  and  his  ambassador  Gondomar,  who 
lured  us  to  alienate  France,  alienate  the  German  Protestant  princea,  alien- 
ate even  James's  son-in-law  Frederick  and  our  own  House  of  Commons, 
only  to  break  off  negotiations  at  the  last  minute  and  leave  us  virtually 
helpless!" 

"He  was  an  infamous  wretch,  that  Gondomar,"  Ebenezer  agreed  po- 
litely. 

"That,  of  course,  together  with  his  conversion  to  the  Church  of  Rome, 
which  he  announced  shortly  after,  ended  Grandfather's  public  career,  for 
he  was  not  a  man  to  alter  course  before  every  fickle  wind  of  expedience, 
as  did  Buckingham  and  the  court,  but  followed  honorably  the  dictates  of 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

Conscience  and  Reason.  Despite  the  King's  entreaties  he  retired  from  office, 
and  as  reward  for  his  loyalty  James  named  him  Baron  of  Baltimore  in  the 
Kingdom  of  Ireland. 

"From  then  till  his  death  he  devoted  himself  to  colonizing  America.  In 
1622  James  had  patented  him  the  southeastern  peninsula  of  Newfound- 
land, and  my  grandfather,  deceived  by  lying  reports  of  the  place,  put  a 
good  part  of  his  fortune  into  a  settlement  called  Avalon  and  went  to  live 
there  himself.  But  the  climate  was  intolerable,  for  one  thing,  and  det- 
rimental both  to  crops  and  health.  What's  more,  the  French— with  whom, 
thanks  to  Buckingham's  statesmanship,  we  were  at  war— were  forever 
snatching  our  vessels  and  molesting  our  fishermen;  and  as  if  this  were  not 
trouble  enough,  certain  rascally  Puritan  ministers  spread  word  in  the  Privy 
Council  that  Popish  priests  were  being  smuggled  into  Avalon  to  undermine 
the  Church  of  England  there.  At  length  my  grandfather  begged  King 
Charles  for  a  grant  farther  south,  in  the  dominion  of  Virginia.  The  King 
wrote  in  reply  that  Grandfather  should  abandon  his  plans  and  return  to 
England,  but  ere  the  letter  was  received  Grandfather  had  already  removed 
to  Jamestown  with  his  family  and  forty  colonists.  There  he  was  met  by 
Governor  Pott  and  his  Council  (including  the  blackguard  William  Clai- 
borne,  archenemy  of  Maryland,  who  for  very  spleen  and  treachery  hath 
no  equal  in  the  history  of  the  New  World),  all  of  'em  hostile  as  salvages 
and  bent  on  driving  Grandfather  away,  for  fear  Charles  would  grant  him 
the  whole  of  Virginia  out  from  under  'em.  As  if  he  were  some  upstart 
and  not  late  Privy  Councillor  to  the  King,  they  pressed  him  to  swear  the 
oath  of  supremacy,  knowing  full  well  that  as  a  good  Catholic  he  would 
perforce  refuse.  Not  e'en  the  King  had  required  it  of  him,  and  'twas  in 
the  authority  of  neither  Pott  nor  Claiborne  nor  any  other  rascal  in  Virginia 
to  administer  it,  but  demand  it  they  did,  nonetheless,  and  were  like  to  set 
bullies  and  ruffians  upon  him  when  he  would  not  swear't." 

"Inequity!"  said  Ebenezer. 

"Iniquity!"  amended  Charles.  "So  hardly  did  they  use  him,  that  he  was 
forced  to  leave  wife  and  family  in  Jamestown,  and  after  exploring  the 
coast  for  awhile  he  returned  to  England  and  asked  Charles  for  the  Carolina 
territory,  south  of  the  James  River  to  Chowan  and  westward  to  the  moun- 
tains. The  charter  was  drawn,  but  ere  'twas  granted  who  should  appear  in 
England  but  good  Master  Claiborne,  who  straightway  commences  to  scheme 
and  intrigue  against  it.  To  avoid  dispute,  Grandfather  nobly  relinquished 
Carolina  and  applied  instead  for  land  north  of  Virginia,  on  both  sides  of 
the  Bay  of  Chesapeake.  Charles  tried  in  vain  to  persuade  him  to  live  at 


[92]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

ease  in  England  and  labor  no  more  with  grants  and  colonies,  for  that  Grand- 
father was  by  this  time  broken  in  health  from  the  rigors  of  Avalon,  dis- 
pirited by  his  contests  with  intriguers  and  bigots,  and  well-nigh  impoverished 
by  his  failures.  'Twas  e'en  implied  that  his  favor  with  the  crown  would 
be  increased  to  make  up  for  his  losses.  But  Grandfather  would  have  none 
of  such  idleness  and  at  last  prevailed  upon  the  King  to  make  the  grant, 
which  he  would  name  Crescentia,  but  which  the  King  called  Terra  Mariae, 
or  Mary-Land,  after  Henrietta  Maria,  the  Queen." 
"Nobly  done." 

"A  charter  was  writ  up  then,  the  like  of  which  for  authority  and  amplitude 
had  ne'er  been  composed  by  the  Crown  of  England.  It  granted  to  my 
grandfather  all  the  land  from  the  Potomac  River  on  the  south  to  Latitude 
Forty  on  the  north,  and  from  the  Atlantic  west  to  the  meridian  of  the 
Potomac's  first  fountain.  To  distinguish  her  above  all  other  regions  in  the 
territory,  Maryland  was  named  a  Province,  a  county  palatine,  and  over  it 
we  Barons  Baltimore  were  made  and  decreed  the  true  and  absolute  Lords 
and  Proprietaries.  We  had  the  advowsons  of  churches;  we  had  authority 
to  enact  laws  and  create  courts-baron  and  courts-leet  to  enforce  'em;  we 
could  punish  miscreants  e'en  to  the  taking  of  life  or  member;  we  could 

confer  dignities  and  titles " 

"Ah,"  said  Ebenezer,  listening  in  awe. 

"—we  could  fit  out  armies,  make  war,  levy  taxes,  patent  land,  trade 

abroad,  establish  towns  and  ports  of  entry " 

"Mercy!" 

"In  short,"  Charles  declared,  "for  the  tribute  of  two  Indian  arrows  per 
annum,  Maryland  was  ours  in  free  and  common  socage,  to  manage  as  we 
pleased;  and  what's  more  'twas  laid  down  in  the  charter  that  peradventure 
any  word,  clause,  or  sentence  in't  were  disputed,  it  must  be  read  so's  most 
to  benefit  us,  and  there's  an  end  on'tl" 
"Ffaith,  it  dizzies  me!" 

"Aye,  'twas'  a  mighty  charter,  and  fit  reward  to  George  Calvert  for  a 
life  of  loyal  and  thankless  service.  But  ere  it  passed  the  Great  Seal,  Grand- 
father died,  wdrn  out  at  a  mere  fifty-two  years  of  age,  and  the  charter 
passed  to  his  son  Cecil,  my  own  dear  father,  who  thus  in  1632,  when  he 
was  but  twenty-six,  became  Second  Lord  Baltimore  and  First  Lord  Pro- 
prietary of  the  Province  of  Maryland.  Straightway  he  set  to  fitting  out  ves- 
sels and  rounding  up  colonists,  to  what  a  hue  and  a  cry  from  Black  Bill 
Claiborne!  To  what  a  gnashing  of  teeth  and  tearing  of  hair  amongst  the 
members  of  the  old  Virginia  Company,  whose  charter  had  long  since  been 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  93  ] 

revoked!  They  would  noise  it  in  Cheapside  that  Father's  great  powers  de- 
prived the  people  of  their  liberty,  and  bruit  it  in  Bankside  that  the  Mary- 
landers  were  given  such  a  surfeit  of  liberty  as  to  discontent  the  settlers  in 
Virginia!  They  would  vow  in  Limehouse  that  the  Ark  and  the  Dove  were 
fitting  out  to  carry  nuns  to  Spain,  and  swear  in  Kensington  'twas  to  ferry 
Spanish  soldiers  that  Father  rigged  'em.  So  numerous  and  crafty  were  his 
enemies,  that  Father  must  needs  stay  behind  in  London  to  preserve  his 
rights  and  trust  the  voyage  to  my  uncles  Leonard  and  George,  who  set 
out  from  Gravesend  for  Maryland  on  October  18,  1633.  But  no  sooner 
doth  the  Ark  weigh  anchor  than  one  of  Claiborne's  spies,  hoping  to 
scuttle  us,  runs  to  the  Star  Chamber  and  reports  we're  not  cleared  through 
customs,  and  our  crew  hath  not  sworn  the  oath  of  allegiance.  Secretary 
Coke  sends  couriers  to  Admiral  Pennington,  in  the  Straits  off  Sandwich, 
to  halt  us,  and  back  we're  sent  to  London." 

"Foul  connivance!" 

"After  a  month  of  haranguing,  Father  cleared  away  the  charges  as  false 
and  malicious,  and  off  we  went  again.  So's  not  to  give  Claiborne  farther 
ammunition,  we  loaded  our  Protestants  at  Gravesend*  swpre  'em  their  oath 
off  Tilbury,  and  then  sailed  down  the  Channel  to  the  Isle  of  Wight  to  load 
our  Catholics  and  a  brace  of  Jesuit  priests." 

"Very  clever,"  Ebenezer  said  a  little  uncertainly. 

"Then,  by  Heav'n,  off  we  sail  for  Maryland  at  last,  with  instructions  from 
Father  not  to  hold  our  masses  in  the  public  view,  not  to  dispute  religion 
with  the  Protestants,  not  to  anchor  under  the  Virginians'  guns  at  Port  Com- 
fort but  to  lie  instead  over  by  Accomac  on  the  Eastern  Shore,  and  not  to 
have  aught  to  do  with  Captain  Claibome  and  his  people  for  the  first  year. 

"With  the  salvages,  a  nation  of  Piscataways,  we  had  no  quarrel,  for  they 
were  happy  enough  to  enlist  our  defense  against  their  enemies  the  Seneques 
and  Susquehannoughs:  'twas  the  fiend  Claiborne,  more  evil  than  a  score 
of  salvages,  who  caused  our  trouble!  This  Claiborne  was  a  factor  for  Clo- 
berry  and  Company,  a  Councillor  of  Virginia  after  her  charter  was  re- 
voked, and  Secretary  of  State  for  the  Dominion  by  appointment  of  Charles 
I,  who  was  easily  misled.  He  ran  a  fur  trade  with  the  Susquehanaoughs 
along  the  Chesapeake,  and  for  that  reason  had  early  looked  on  my  grand- 
father as  a  threat  to  his  fortunes.  His  main  interest  was  Kent  Island,  halfway 
up  the  Chesapeake,  where  his  trading-post  was  situated:  he'd  rather  have 
surrendered  an  arm  than  Kent  Island,  though  'twas  clearly  within  our  grant." 

'What  did  he  do?"  asked  Ebenezer. 

"What  doth  Mr.  Claiborne  do?  Why,  says  he  to  himself,  Doth  not 


[94]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

Baltimore's  charter  grant  him  the  land  hactemis  inculta— Tiitherto  unculti- 
vated?' And  didn't  he  give  up  claim  to  Accomac  when  'twas  shown  the 
Virginians  had  already  settled  there?  Then  he  must  give  up  Kent  Island 
too,  for  my  traders  beat  him  to't!  Thus  he  pled  to  the  Lords  Commissioners 
for  Plantations.  But  mark  you,  this  accursed  hactenus  inculta  was  meant 
as  mere  description  of  the  land;  'tis  the  common  language  of  charters,  and 
not  intended  as  a  condition  of  the  grant.  And  truth  to  tell,  Claibome's 
traders  had  not  tilled  the  Island  at  that:  they  bartered  their  ware  for  corn 
to  live  on  as  well  as  furs  for  Cloberry  and  Company.  The  Lords  Commis- 
sioners disallowed  his  claim,  but  give  up  Kent  Island  he  would  not.  The 
Marylanders  land  in  March  of  1634— fifty-nine  years  ago  this  month- 
settle  at  St.  Mary's,  and  inform  Claiborne  that  Kent  Island  is  theirs;  he 
will  neither  swear  allegiance  to  the  Proprietary  nor  take  title  to  Kent 
from  him,,  but  asks  the  Virginia  Council  what  to  do.  You  may  depend  on't 
he  doth  not  tell  'em  of  the  Lords  Commissioners'  ruling,  and  news  travels 
slow  from  the  Privy  Council  to  America;  and  so  they  tell  him  to  hold  fast, 
and  that  he  doth,  inflaming  all  whose  ears  he  can  catch  against  my  father. 

"Uncle  Leonard,  in  St.  Mary's,  lets  Claibome's  year  of  grace  expire  and 
then  commands  him  to  acknowledge  Father's  rights  or  suffer  imprisonment 
and  confiscation  of  the  Island.  King  Charles  orders  Governor  Harvey  of 
Virginia  to  protect  us  from  the  Indians  and  allow  free  trade  'twixt  the 
colonies,  and  at  the  same  time,  being  misled  by  Claibome's  agents  to 
believe  Kent  Island  outside  our  patent,  he  orders  Father  not  to  molest 
Claiborne!  Now  Harvey  was  a  right  enough  Christian  man,  rest  his  soul, 
willing  to  live  and  let  live;  therefore,  our  Claiborne,  who  had  no  use  for 
such  peaceableness,  had  long  led  a  faction  aimed  at  unseating  the  poor 
man  and  driving  him  from  the  colony.  Thus  when  Harvey  in  obeying  the 
King's  order  declares  his  readiness  to  trade  with  Maryland,  the  Virginians 
rise  up  in  a  rage  against  him  and  declare  they'd  sooner  knock  their  cattle 
on  the  head  than  sell  'em  to  us. 

"Then  'twas  open  warfare.  Uncle  Leonard  seizes  one  of  Claibome's 
pinnaces  in  the  Patuxent  River  and  arrests  her  master  Thomas  Smith  for 
trading  without  a  license  from  Father.  Claiborne  arms  a  shallop  and  com- 
missions her  captain  to  attack  any  Maryland  vessel  he  meets.  Uncle  Leonard 
sends  out  two  pinnaces  to  engage  him,  and  after  a  bloody  fight  in  the 
Pocomoke  River,  on  the  Eastern  Shore,  the  shallop  surrenders.  Two  weeks 
later  another  Claiborne  vessel  under  command  of  the  same  Tom  Smith 
fights  it  out  in  Pocomoke  Harbor.  Poor  Governor  Harvey  by  this  time  is 
under  such  fire  from  his  Council  that  he  flies  to  England  for  safety. 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  95  ] 

"Meanwhile  Uncle  Leonard  cuts  off  the  Kent  Islanders  completely,  and 
the  land  being  altogether  inculta,  they  commence  to  starve.  Father  points 
this  out  to  Cloberry  and  Company,  and  so  persuades  them  that  they  pre- 
tend no  farther  title  to  Kent  but  send  a  new  attorney  to  Maryland,  with 
authority  to  supersede  Claiborne.  The  devil  finally  yields,  asking  only  that 
the  new  man,  George  Evelyn,  not  deliver  Kent  Island  to  the  Marylanders; 
but  Evelyn  refuses  to  promise,  and  so  Claiborne  withdraws  to  London, 
where  he  is  sued  by  Cloberry  and  charged  with  mutiny  by  Governor  Harvey. 
Furthermore,  Evelyn  proceeds  to  attach  all  of  Claiborne's  property  in  Vir- 
ginia in  the  name  of  Cloberry  and  Company. 

"  'Twas  no  more  than  the  man  deserved,"  Ebenezer  said. 

"He  saw  we'd  got  the  better  of  him  for  the  nonce,  and  so  he  tried  a 
new  tack;  he  buys  him  Palmer's  Island  from  his  cronies  the  Susquehan- 
noughs,  this  being  in  the  head  of  the  Chesapeake  where  their  river  joins 
it,  and  sets  him  up  a  new  trading-post  there,  pretending  he's  outside  our 
patent.  Then  he  petitions  Charles  to  forbid  Father  from  molesting  him 
and  further  asks— with  a  plain  face,  mind!— for  a  grant  to  all  the  land  for 
twelve  leagues  either  side  the  Susquehannough  River,  extending  south- 
ward down  the  Bay  to  the  ocean  and  northward  to  the  Grand  Lake  of 
Canada!" 

"You  don't  tell  me!"  cried  Ebenezer  in  alarm,  though  he  hadn't  the 
faintest  picture  of  the  geography  referred  to. 

"Aye,"  nodded  Charles.  "The  man  was  mad!  'Twould  have  given  him 
a  strip  of  New  England  twenty-four  leagues  in  breadth  and  near  three  hun- 
dred in  length,  plus  the  entire  Chesapeake  and  three  fourths  of  Maryland! 
'Twas  his  hope  to  fool  the  King  once  more  as  he'd  done  in  the  past,  but 
the  Lords  Commissioners  threw  out  his  petition.  Evelyn  then  acknowledged 
Father's  title  to  Kent,  and  Uncle  Leonard  named  him  Commander  of  the 
Island.  He  attempted  to  persuade  the  Islanders  to  apply  to  Father  for  title 
to  their  land  and  might  have  won  them  over,,  were't  not  that  the  rascally 
Tom  Smith  is  established  there,  along  with  Claiborne's  brother-in-law,  and 
betwixt  the  two  some  armed  resistance  is  mustered  against  Evelyn.  There 
was  naught  for't  then  but  to  reduce  'em  for  good  and  all,  the  more  since 
word  had  it  that  Claiborne  and  Tom  Smith  were  fortifying  Palmer's  Island 
as  well.  Uncle  Leonard  himself  led  two  expeditions  against  the  islands,  re- 
duced them,  jailed  Smith  and  John  Boteler— Claiborne's  kin— and  confis- 
cated all  of  Claiborne's  property  in  the  Province." 

"I  trust  that  chastened  the  knave!" 

"For  a  time/'  Charles  replied.  "He  got  him  an  island  in  the  Bahamas 


[96]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

in  1638,  and  we  saw  none  of  him  for  four  or  five  years.  As  for  Smith  and 
Boteler,  we  had  'em  jailed,  but  since  the  Assembly  had  never  yet  convened, 
we  had  no  jury  to  indict  'em,  no  law  to  try  'em  under,  and  no  court  to 
try  'em  in!" 

"How  did  you  manage  it?"  asked  Ebenezer.  "Pray  don't  tell  me  you 
turned  them  free!" 

"Why,  we  convened  the  Assembly  as  a  grand  inquest  to  bring  the  in- 
dictment, then  magicked  'em  into  a  court  to  try  the  case  and  find  the 
prisoners  guilty.  Uncle  Leonard  then  sentences  Smith  to  hang,  the  court 
becomes  an  Assembly  again  and  passes  his  sentence  as  a  bill  (since  we'd 
had  no  law  to  try  the  case  under),  and  Uncle  Leonard  commutes  the  sen- 
tence to  insure  that  no  injustice  hath  been  done.  As  for  Boteler,  he  was 
let  off  with  a  light  sentence." 

"  Twas  a  brilliant  maneuver!"  declared  Ebenezer.  "A  coup  de  mdttre!" 

"  'Twas  but  the  commencement  of  our  woes,"  said  Charles.  "No  sooner 
was  the  Assembly  convened  than  they  demanded  the  right  to  enact  laws, 
albeit  the  charter  plainly  reserved  that  right  for  the  Proprietary,  requiring 
only  the  assent  of  the  freemen.  Father  resisted  for  a  time  but  had  shortly 
to  concede,  at  least  for  the  nonce,  in  order  to  avoid  a  mutiny  ere  the 
colony  was  firmly  planted.  Howbeit,  his  acquiescence  on  this  point,  me- 
thinks,  was  our  undoing,  inasmuch  as  from  that  day  forward  the  Assembly 
was  at  odds  with  us,  and  played  us  false,  and  lost  no  chance  to  diminish 
our  power  and  aggrandize  their  own." 

He  sighed. 

"And  as  if  this  weren't  sufficient  harassment,  'twas  about  this  time  we 
learned  that  the  Jesuit  missionaries,  who  since  the  hour  the  Ark  landed 
had  been  converting  Piscataways  by  the  score,  had  all  the  while  been 
taking  in  return  large  tracts  of  land  in  the  name  of  the  Church;  and  one 
fine  day  they  declare  to  us  their  intent  to  hold  this  enormous  territory  in- 
dependent of  the  Proprietary!, They  knew  Father  was  Catholic  and  felt 
themselves  a  safe  distance  from  the  English  praemunire  writ,  and  so  an- 
nounced that  canon  law  held  full  sway  in  the  province,  and  that  by  the 
Papal  Bull  In  Coena  Domini  they  and  their  fraudulent  landholdings  were 
exempt  from  the  common  law!" 

"Ah  God,  such  ingrates!"  said  Ebenezer. 

"What  they  were  ignorant  of,"  Charles  continued,  "was  that  Grandfather, 
ere  he  turned  Catholic,  had  seen  his  fill  of  Jesuitry  in  Ireland,  when  James 
sent  him  to  investigate  the  discontent  there,  'Twas  the  Jesuits  were  foment- 
ing rebellion,  and,  e'en  after  turning  to  Rome,  he  held  no  love  for  'em 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [97] 

and  warned  Father  of  their  subtleties.  Father,  then,  to  nip't  in  the  bud 
ere  the  Jesuits  snatch  the  whole  Province  on  the  one  hand,  as  Uncle 
Leonard  feared,  or  the  Protestants  use  the  incident  as  excuse  for  an  anti- 
Papist  insurrection  on  the  other— Father,  I  say,  applied  to  Rome  to  recall 
the  Jesuits  and  send  him  secular  priests  instead;  and  after  some  years  of 
dispute  the  Propaganda  ordered  it  done. 

"Next  came  Indian  trouble.  The  Susquehannoughs  to  the  north  and 
the  Nanticokes  on  the  Eastern  Shore  had  always  raided  the  other  tribes 
now  and  again,  being  hunters  and  not  farmers.  But  after  1640,  for  one 
cause  or  another,  they  took  to  attacking  plantations  here  and  there  in  the 
Province,  and  there  was  talk  of  their  stirring  up  our  friends  the  Piscataways 
to  join  'em  in  a  wholesale  massacre.  Uncle  Leonard  applied  to  Governor 
Berkeley  of  Virginia  to  join  him  in  an  expedition  to  reduce  the  salvages, 
but  Berkeley's  Council  refused  to  help  us:  small  matter  to  them  if  every 
soul  in  Maryland  lost  his  scalp!  Some  said  'twas  the  French  behind  it  all; 
some  alleged  'twas  the  work  of  the  Jesuits;  but  I  believe  'twas  the  scheming 
hand  of  Bill  Claibome  at  work.  Nay,  I  am  sure  oft!" 

"Claiborne!"  said  Ebenezer.  "How  is  that?  Did  I  not  mishear  you,  Clai- 
borne  was  hid  somewhere  in  the  Bahamas!" 

"Aye,  so  he  was.  But  in  1643,  what  with  the  Jesuit  trouble,  and  the 
Indian  trouble,,  and  some  dissension  in  the  colony  over  the  civil  war  'twixt 
Charles  and  the  Parliament,  Uncle  Leonard  returned  to  London  to  discuss 
the  affairs  of  the  Province  with  Father,  and  no  sooner  did  he  sail  than 
Claiborne  commenced  slipping  up  the  Bay  in  secret,  trying  to  stir  up 
sedition  amongst  the  Kent  Islander?.  'Twas  about  this  time  one  Richard 
Ingle— a  sea-captain,  atheist,  and  traitor— puts  into  St.  Mary's  with  a  mer- 
chantman called  the  Reformation,  drinks  himself  drunk,  and  declares  to 
all  and  sundry  that  the  King  is  no  king,  that  had  he  Prince  Rupert  aboard 
he'd  flog  him  at  the  capstan  and  be  damned  to  him,  and  that  he'd  take 
off  the  head  of  any  royalist  who  durst  gainsay  him!" 

"Treason!"  Ebenezer  exclaimed. 

"So  said  our  man  Giles  Brent,  who  was  Governor  against  Uncle  Leonard's 
return;  he  jailed  Ingle  and  confiscated  his  ship.  But  as  quick  as  we  clap 
the  blackguard  in  irons  he's  set  loose  by  order  of  our  own  Councilman, 
Captain  Cornwaleys,  restored  to  his  ship,  and  let  go  free  as  a  fish  without 
clearing  his  vessel  or  paying  his  debts!" 

"I  am  astonished." 

"Now,  this  Cornwaleys  was  a  soldier  and  had  lately  led  expeditions  to 
make  peace  with  the  Nanticokes  and  drive  back  the  Susquehannoughs, 


[.98  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

despite  the  great  scarcity  of  powder  and  shot  in  the  Province.  When  we 
impeached  him  for  freeing  Ingle,  'twas  said  in  his  defense  he'd  exacted 
promise  from  the  scoundrel  to  supply  us  a  barrel  of  powder  and  four  hun- 
dredweight of  shot  for  the  defense  of  the  Province— and  sure  enough  the 
rascal  returns  soon  after,  cursing  and  assaulting  all  he  meets,  and  pledges 
the  ammunition  as  bail  against  a  future  trial.  But  ere  we  see  a  ball  oft, 
off  he  sails  again,  flaunting  clearance  and  port-dues,  and  takes  his  friend 
Cornwaleys  as  passenger. 

"'Twas  soon  clear,  to  our  horror,  that  Ingle  and  Claiborne,  our  two 
worst  enemies,  had  leagued  together  to  do  us  in,  using  the  English  Civil 
War  as  alibi.  Claiborne  landed  at  Kent  Island,  displayed  a  false  parchment, 
and  swore  'twas  his  commission  from  the  King  to  command  the  Island. 
At  the  same  time,  the  roundhead  Ingle  storms  St.  Mary's  with  an  armed 
ship  and  his  own  false  parchment,  which  he  calls  letters  of  marque  from 
the  Parliament;  he  reduces  the  city,  drives  Uncle  Leonard  to  flee  to  Virginia, 
and  so  with  Claiborne's  aid  claims  the  whole  of  Maryland,  which  for  the 
space  of  two  years  suffers  total  anarchy.  He  pillages  here,  plunders  there, 
seizes  property;  steals  the  very  locks  and  hinges  of  every  housedoor,  and 
snatches  e'en  the  Great  Seal  of  Maryland  itself,  it  being  forty  poundsworth 
of  good  silver.  He  does  not  stick  e'en  at  the  house  and  goods  of  his  savior 
Cornwaleys  but  plunders  'em  with  the  rest,  and  then  has  Comwaleys 
jailed  in  London  as  his  debtor  and  a  traitor  to  bootl  As  a  final  cut  he  swears 
to  the  House  of  Lords  he  did  it  all  for  conscience's  sake,  forasmuch  as 
Cornwaleys  and  the  rest  of  his  victims  were  wicked  Papists  and  malignantsl" 

"I  cannot  comprehend  it,"  confessed  Ebenezer. 

"In  1646.  Uncle  Leonard  mustered  a  force  with  the  help  of  Governor 
Berkeley  and  recaptured  St.  Mary's  and  soon  all  of  Maryland— Kent  Island 
being  the  last  to  submit  The  Province  was  ours  again,  though  Uncle 
Leonard's  pains  were  ill  rewarded,  for  he  died  a  year  after." 

"Hi!"  cried  Ebenezer.  "What  a  struggle!  I  hope  with  all  my  heart  you 
were  plagued  no  more  by  the  likes  of  Claiborne  but  enjoyed  your  Province 
in  peace  and  harmony!" 

"  Twas  our  due,  by  Heav'n!  It  should  have  been  wholly  clear  to  all  by 
then,  that  as  the  proverb  hath  it,  Tis  better  to  rule  than  be  ruled  by  the 
rout.  But  not  three  years  passed  ere  the  pot  of  faction  and  sedition  boiled 
again." 

"I  groan  to  hear  it." 

"  Twas  mainly  Claiborne  again,  this  time  in  league  with  Oliver  Crom- 
well and  the  Protestants,  though  he'd  lately  been  a  swaggering  royalist." 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [99] 

"I  swear,"  said  Ebenezer,  "the  fellow's  a  very  Vicar  of  Bray  for  shifting 
with  the  weather!" 

"Some  years  before,  when  the  Anglicans  ran  the  Puritans  out  of  Virginia, 
Uncle  Leonard  had  given  'em  leave  to  make  a  town  called  Providence  on 
the  Severn  River,  inasmuch  as  none  suffered  in  Maryland  by  reason  of 
his  faith.  But  these  Protestants  were  arch  ingrates,  and  despised  us  Roman- 
ists, and  would  swear  no  allegiance  to  Father.  They  plainly  declared  their 
eagerness  for  his  overthrow  and  watched  jealously  for  any  excuse  to  seize 
the  government.  When  Charles  I  was  beheaded  and  Charles  II  driven  to 
exile,  Father  made  no  protest  but  acknowledged  Parliament's  authority; 
he  e'en  saw  to't  that  the  Catholic  Thomas  Greene,  Governor  after  Uncle 
Leonard  died,  was  replaced  by  a  Protestant  and  friend  of  Parliament,  Wil- 
liam Stone,  so's  to  give  the  malcontents  in  Providence  no  occasion  to 
rebel.  His  thanks  for  this  wisdom  was  to  have  Charles  II,  exiled  on  the 
Isle  of  Jersey,  declare  him  a  Roundhead  and  grant  the  Maryland  govern- 
ment to  Sir  William  Davenant,  the  poet/' 

"Davenant!"  exclaimed  Ebenezer.  "Ah,  now,  'tis  a  right  noble  vision, 
the  poet-king!  Yet  do  I  blush  for  my  craft,  that  the  fellow  took  a  prize  so 
unfairly  giv'n." 

"He  got  not  far  with't,  for  no  sooner  did  he  sail  for  Maryland  than  a 
Parliament  cruiser  waylaid  him  in  the  Channel  off  Lands  End,  and  that 
scotched  him." 

"Colleague  or  no,'7  Ebenezer  declared,  "I've  no  pity  for  him." 

"Now  Virginia,,  don't  you  know,  was  royalist  to  the  end,  and  when  she 
proclaimed  Charles  II  directly  his  father  was  axed,  Parliament  made  ready 
a  fleet  to  reduce  her  to  submission.  Just  then,  in  1650,  our  Governor  Stone 
hied  him  to  Virginia  on  business  and  deputized  his  predecessor  Thomas 
Greene  to  govern  till  his  return.  'Twas  a  fool's  decision,  inasmuch  as  this 
Greene  still  smarted  at  having  been  replaced  and  despised  Father  as  a 
traitor  to  the  Crown  and  the  Roman  Church.  Directly  he's  deputized  he 
declares  with  Virginia  for  Charles  II  as  the  rightful  ruler  of  England,  and 
for  all  Governor  Stone  hastens  back  and  turns  the  fellow  out,  the  damage 
is  done!  The  dastard  Dick  Ingle  was  still  a  free  man  in  London,  and  directly 
word  reached  him  he  flew  to  the  committee  in  charge  of  reducing  Virginia 
and  caused  'em  to  add  Maryland  to  the  commission.  How  the  man  yearned 
to  plunder  us  again!  But  Father  caught  wind  oft,  and  ere  the  fleet  sailed 
he  petitioned  that  Greene's  proclamation  had  been  made  without  his 
authority  or  knowledge,  and  caused  the  name  of  Maryland  to  be  stricken 
from  the  commission.  Thinking  that  guaranty  enough,  he  retired:  straight- 


[  100  ]  THE   SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

way  sly  Bill  Claiborne  appears  and,  trusting  as  always  that  the  committee 
knows  naught  of  American  geography,  sees  to't  the  commission  is  rewrit 
to  include  all  the  plantations  within  the  Bay  of  Chesapeake— which  is  to 
say,  all  of  Maryland!  What's  more,  he  gets  himself  appointed  as  an  alternate 
commissioner  of  Parliament  to  sail  with  the  fleet.  There  were  three  com- 
missioners— all  reasonable  gentlemen,  if  misled— and  two  alternates: 
Claiborne  and  another  scoundrel,  Richard  Bennett,  that  had  taken  ref- 
uge in  our  Providence  town  what  time  Virginia  turned  out  her  Puritans." 

"Marry!"  cried  Ebenezer.  "I  ne'er  have  heard  of  such  perfidy!" 

"Stay,"  said  Charles.  "Not  content  with  being  alternates,  Claiborne 
and  Bennett  see  to't  two  of  the  commissioners  are  lost  at  sea  during  the 
passage,  and  step  ashore  at  Point  Comfort  with  full  authority  over  both 
Virginia  and  Maryland!" 

"  'Sbodikins!  The  man's  a  very  Machiavell" 

"They  reduce  Virginia;  Bennett  appoints  himself  Governor  and 
Claiborne  Secretary  of  State;  then  they  turn  to  Maryland,  where  the  rascals 
in  Providence  greet  'em  with  open  arms.  Good  Governor  Stone  is  de- 
posed, Catholics  are  stripped  of  their  rights  wholesale,  and  all  Father's 
authority  is  snatched  away.  As  a  last  stroke,  Claiborne  and  Bennett  rouse 
up  the  old  Virginia  Company  to  petition  for  wiping  Maryland  off  the  map 
entirely  and  restoring  the  ancient  boundaries  of  Virginia!  Father  pled 
his  case  to  the  Commissioners  for  Plantations,  and  while  it  lay  a-cooking 
he  reminded  Oliver  Cromwell  that  Maryland  had  stayed  loyal  to  the  Com- 
monwealth in  the  face  of  her  royalist  neighbors.  Cromwell  heard  him  out, 
and  later,  when  he  dissolved  Parliament  and  named  himself  Lord  Protector, 
he  assured  Father  of  his  favor. 

"Governor  Stone  meanwhile  had  got  himself  back  into  office,  and 
Father  ordered  him  to  proclaim  the  Protectorate  and  declare  the  commis- 
sioners' authority  expired.  Claiborne  and  Bennett  muster  a  force  of  their 
own  and  depose  Stone  again  favor  of  the  Puritan  William  Fuller  from 
Providence,  Father  appeals  to  Cromwell,  Cromwell  sends  an  order  to  Ben- 
nett and  Claiborne  to  desist,  and  Father  orders  Stone  to  raise  a  force  and 
march  on  Fuller  in  Providence.  But  Fuller  hath  more  guns,,  and  so  he  forces 
Stone's  men  to  surrender  on  promise  of  quarter.  No  sooner  doth  he  have 
'em  than  he  murders  four  of  Stone's  lieutenants  on  the  spot  and  throws 
Stone,  grievously  wounded,  into  prison.  Fuller's  beasts  then  seize  the  Great 
Seal,  confiscate  and  plunder  at  will,  and  drive  all  Catholic  priests  out  of 
the  Province  in  fear  of  their  lives;  Claiborne  and  his  cohorts  raise  a  hue 
and  a  ciy  again  to  the  Commissioners  for  Plantations.  But  'tis  all  in  vain, 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  1O1  ] 

for  at  last,  in  1658,  the  Province  is  restored  to  Father,  and  the  government 
delivered  to  Josias  Fendall,  whom  Father  had  named  to  represent  him  after 
Stone  was  jailed." 

"Thank  Heav'n!"  said  Ebenezer.  "All's  well  that  ends  well!" 
"And  ill  as  ends  ill,"  replied  Charles,  "for  that  same  year,  1658,  Fendall 
turned  traitor/' 

"Tis  too  much!"  cried  Ebenezer.  "Tis  a  surfeit  of  treachery!" 
"Tis  the  plain  truth.  Some  say  he  was  the  tool  of  Fuller  and  Claiborne, 
inasmuch  as  Fuller  had  once  arrested  him  and  released  him  only  on 
oath  of  allegiance  to  the  poltroons.  However  'twas,  Cromwell  being  dead 
and  his  son  a  weakling,  Fendall  persuaded  the  Assembly  to  declare  them- 
selves independent  of  the  Proprietary,  overthrew  the  whole  constitution 
of  the  Province,  and  usurped  every  trace  of  Father's  authority.  TwouldVe 
been  a  sorry  time  for  us,  had  not  Charles  II  been  restored  to  the  throne 
shortly  after.  Father,  Heav'n  knows  how,  made  peace  with  him,  and  ob- 
tained royal  letters  commanding  all  to  support  his  government  and  directing 
Berkeley  of  Virginia  to  aid  him.  Uncle  Philip  Calvert  was  named  governor, 
and  the  whole  conspiracy  collapsed  at  once:  Maryland  was  ours  again— 
albeit  the  Assembly  remained  a  thorn  in  our  side." 
"Dare  I  hope  your  trials  ended  there?"  asked  Ebenezer. 
"For  a  time  we  suffered  no  more  rebellions,"  Charles  admitted.  "I  came 
to  St.  Mary's  as  governor  in  1661,  and  in  1675,  when  my  dear  father  died, 
I  became  third  Lord  Baltimore.  During  that  time  our  only  real  troubles 
were  scattered  assaults  by  the  Indians  and  certain  attempts  by  the  Dutch, 
the  Swedes,  and  others  to  snatch  away  some  of  our  land  by  the  old  hactenus 
inculta  gambit.  The  Dutch  had  long  before  settled  illegally  on  the  Dela- 
ware River,  and  Governor  D'Hinoyossa  of  New  Amstel  stirred  up  the 
Jhonadoes,  the  Cinagoes,  and  the  Mingoes  against  us.  I  considered  making 
war  on  him,  but  decided  against  it  for  fear  King  Charles  (who  had  already 
broken  sundry  of  my  charter-privileges)  might  take  the  opportunity  to  seize 
the  whole  Delaware  territory—I  lost  it  anyhow  in  1664,  to  his  brother  the 
Duke  of  York,  and  could  not  raise  a  word  of  protest. 

"The  year  I  became  Lord  Baltimore  it  happened  that  the  Cinagoes  (what 
the  French  call  Seneques)  descended  on  the  Susquehannoughs,  who  were 
fierce  enough  themselves,  and  they  in  turn  overran  Maryland  and  Virginia. 
The  outrages  that  followed  were  the  excuse  for  Bacon's  Rebellion  in  Vir- 
ginia and  the  cause  of  much  unrest  in  Maryland.  Some  time  before,  in 
order  to  harness  somewhat  the  malcontents  and  seditionists  in  the  Assem- 
bly, I  had  restricted  the  suffrage  to  the  better  class  of  citizens,  and  held 


[l02]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

the  Assembly  in  long  session  to  avoid  the  risk  of  new  elections;  but  even 
this  failed  to  quiet  things— insurrection  was  in  the  very  air,  and  no  governor 
durst  raise  an  army  to  quell  Indians  or  conspirators  for  fear  'twould  turn 
on  him.  My  enemies  intrigued  against  me  from  all  quarters.  Even  old 
Claiborne  reappears  on  the  scene,  albeit  he  was  well  past  eighty,  and,  pos- 
ing as  a  royalist  again,  petitions  the  King  against  me— to  no  avail,  happily, 
and  'twas  my  indescribable  pleasure  not  long  after  to  hear  of  the  scoundrel's 
death  in  Virginia." 

"  Tis  my  pleasure  as  well  to  hear  oft  now,"  declared  Ebenezer,  "for  I'd 
come  to  fear  the  knave  was  immortal!  We  are  the  better  for  his  passing, 
I  swear!" 

"I  was  accused  of  everything  from  Popery  to  defrauding  the  King's  rev- 
enues," Charles  went  on.  "As  if  my  own  weren't  being  defrauded  on  every 
side!  When  Nat  Bacon  turned  his  private  army  on  Governor  Berkeley  in 
Virginia,  a  pair  of  rascals  named  William  Davis  and  John  Pate  attempted 
a  like  rebellion  in  Calvert  County— urged  on,  I  think,  by  the  turncoats 
William  Fuller  and  Josias  Fendall,  who  ranged  privily  about  the  Province 
causing  trouble.  I  was  in  London  at  the  time,  but  when  I  heard  of  the 
thing,  and  heard  it  said  that  the  insurgents  denied  the  lawfulness  of  my 
Assembly,  I  straightway  had  my  deputy  hang  the  both  of  'em,,  and  nipped 
the  matter  ere  it  got  out  of  hand.  But  not  four  years  later  the  traitor  Fen- 
dall conspires  with  a  new  villain  to  incite  a  new  revolt:  This  was  the  false 
priest,  John  Coode,  I  spoke  of,  that  puts  e'en  Black  Bill  Claiborne  in  the, 
shade.  I  squelched  their  game  in  time  and  banished  Fendall  forever,  though 
the  conniving  Assembly  let  Coode  off  free  as  a  bird,  to  cause  more  trouble 
later. 

"After  this  the  intrigues  and  tribulations  came  in  a  great  rush,  such  that 
six  Lords  Proprietary  could  scarce  have  dealt  with  all  In  1681,  to  settle  a 
private  debt,  King  Charles  grants  a  large  area  north  of  Maryland  to  William 
Penn-may  his  Quaker  fat  be  rendered  in  the  fires  of  helll-and  immedi- 
ately I'm  put  to't  to  defend  my  northern  border  against  his  smooth  de- 
ceits and  machinations.  'Twas  laid  out  in  my  charter  that  Maryland's 
north  boundary  is  Latitude  Forty,  and  to  mark  that  parallel  I  had  long 
since  caused  a  blockhouse  to  be  built  for  the  Susquehannoughs.  Penn 
agreed  with  me  that  his  boundary  should  run  north  of  the  blockhouse, 
but  when  his  grant  appeared  no  mention  at  all  was  made  oft.  Instead  there 
was  a  string  of  nonsense  fit  to  muddle  any  templar,  and  to  insure  his  scheme 
Penn  sent  out  a  lying  surveyor  with  a  crooked  sextant  to  take  his  obser- 
vations. The  upshot  oft  was,  he  declared  his  southern  boundary  to  be 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  103  ] 

eight  miles  south  of  my  blockhouse  and  resorted  to  every  evasion  and  sub- 
terfuge to  avoid  conferring  with  me  on  this  outrage.  When  finally  we  treed 
him  and  proposed  a  mutual  observation,  he  pled  a  broken  sextant;  and 
when  our  own  instrument  showed  the  line  in  its  true  location,  he  accused 
me  of  subverting  the  King's  authority.  So  concerned  was  he  that  the 
boundary  fall  where  he  wished,  he  proposed  a  devil's  bag  of  tricks  to  gain 
it.  Measure  north  from  the  Capes,  he  says,  at  the  short  measure  of  sixty 
miles  to  the  degree;  lower  your  south  border  by  thirty  miles,  he  says,  and 
snatch  land  from  the  Virginians;  measure  two  degrees  north  from  Watkins 
Point,  he  says.  Then  I  ask  him,  'Why  this  measuring  and  land-snatching? 
Why  not  take  sextant  in  hand- and  find  the  fortieth  parallel  for  good  and 
all?7  At  last  he  agrees,  but  only  on  condition  that  should  the  line  fall  north 
of  where  he  wants  it,  I  must  sell  him  the  difference  at  a  'gentleman's 
price/" 

"I  cannot  fathom  it,"  Ebenezer  admitted.  "All  this  talk  of  sextants  and 
parallels  leaves  me  faint." 

"The  truth  was,"  said  Charles,  "Penn  had  sworn  to  his  Society  for  Trade 
that  his  grant  included  the  headwaters  of  the  Bay  and  he  was  resolved  to 
have't,  come  what  might,  for  all  his  lying  pieties  and  smooth  platitudes. 
When  all  else  failed  he  fell  to  plotting  with  his  friend  the  Duke  of  York 
next  door,  and  when  to  my  great  distress  the  Duke  took  the  throne  as 
James  II,  Penn  conjures  him  up  that  accursed  specter  of  a  hactenus  inculta 
again  and  gets  himself  granted  the  whole  Delaware  territory,  the  which 
was  neither  his  to  take  nor  James's  to  grant,  but  clearly  and  unmistakably 
mine. 

"Matters  reached  such  a  pass  that  though  I  feared  to  leave  the  Province 
to  my  enemies  for  e'en  a  minute,  I  had  no  recourse  but  to  sail  for  London 
in  1684  to  fight  this  Penn's  intrigues.  Now  for  some  time  I  had  been  falsely 
accused  of  allowing  smugglers  to  defraud  the  King's  port-revenues  and  of 
failing  to  assist  the  royal  tax  collectors,  and  had  even  paid  a  fine  for't 
No  sooner  do  I  weigh  anchor  for  London  than  my  kinsman  George  Talbot 
in  St.  Mary's  allows  a  rascally  beast  of  a  tax  collector  to  anger  him  and 
stabs  the  knave  dead.  Twas  a  fool's  act,  and  my  enemies  seized  on't  at 
once.  Against  all  justice  they  refuse  to  try  him  in  the  Province,  but  instead 
deliver  him  to  Effingham,  then  governor  of  Virginia—who,  by  the  way, 
later  plotted  with  the  Privy  Council  to  have  the  whole  of  Maryland  granted 
to  himself!— and  'twas  all  I  could  manage  to  save  his  neck.  Shortly  after- 
wards another  customs  officer  is  murthered,  and  though  'twas  a  private 
quarrel,  my  enemies  put  the  two  together  to  color  me  a  traitor  to  the  Crown. 


[  104  1  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

Penn,  meanwhile,  commenced  a  quo  warranto  suit  against  my  entire 
charter,  and  with  his  friend  on  the  throne  I  doubt  not  what  would  have 
been  the  result:  as't  happened,  the  folk  of  England  just  then  pressed  their 
own  quo  warranto,  so  to  speak,  against  King  James,  and  Penn's  game  was 
spoilt,  for  the  nonce,  by  the  revolution." 

"I  cannot  tell  how  relieved  I  am  to  hear  it!"  Ebenezer  declared. 

"Ah,"  sighed  Charles,  "but  'twas  my  loss  either  way:  when  James  was 
on  the  throne  my  enemies  called  me  disloyal  to  him;  when  he  went  in 
exile,  and  William  landed  in  England,  all  they  cared  to  remember  was  that 
both  James  and  I  were  Catholics.  Twas  then,  at  the  worst  possible  time, 
my  fool  of  a  Deputy  Governor  William  Josephs  sees  fit  to  declare  to  the 
Assembly  his  belief  in  the  divine  right  of  kings  and,  folly  of  follies,  makes 
Maryland  proclaim  officially  the  birth  of  James's  Catholic  son!" 

"I  tremble  for  you,"  Ebenezer  said. 

"  Tis  fit,  'tis  fit.  Naturally,  the  instant  William  took  the  throne  I  sent 
word  to  the  Maryland  Council  to  proclaim  him.  But  whether  from  natural 
causes  or,  as  I  suspect,  from  the  malice  of  my  enemies,  the  messenger  died 
on  shipboard  and  was  buried  at  sea,  and  his  commission  with  him,  so  that 
Maryland  remained  silent  even  after  Virginia  and  New  England  had  pro- 
claimed. I  sent  a  second  messenger  at  once,  but  the  harm  was  done,  and 
those  who  were  not  crying  'Papist!'  were  crying  'Jacobite!'  On  the  heels  of 
this  misfortune,  in  1689  my  enemies  in  England  caused  me  to  be  outlawed 
in  Ireland  on  charges  of  committing  treason  there  against  William  in 
James's  behalf— though  in  sooth  I'd  never  in  my  life  set  foot  on  Irish  soil  and 
was  at  the  very  moment  in  England  expressly  to  fight  the  efforts  of  James 
and  Penn  to  snatch  Maryland  from  me!  To  top  it  all,  in  March  of  the  same 
year  they  spread  a  rumor  over  Maryland  that  a  great  conspiracy  of  nine 
thousand  Catholics  and  Indians  had  invaded  the  Province  to  murther  every 
Protestant  in  the  land:  the  men  sent  to  Mattapany,  at  the  mouth  of  the 
Potomac,  are  told  of  massacres  at  the  river's  head  and,  rushing  there  to 
save  the  day,,  find  the  settlers  arming  against  such  massacres  as  they've 
heard  of  in  Mattapany!  For  all  my  friends  declare  'tis  naught  but  a  sleeve- 
less fear  and  imagination,  the  whole  Province  is  up  in  arms  against  the 
Catholics." 

"Blind!  Blind!" 

"Aye,  but  'twas  no  worse  than  the  anti-Papism  here  in  London,"  said 
Charles.  "My  only  pleasure  in  this  dark  hour  was  to  see  that  lying  Quaker 
Penn  himself  arrested  and  jailed  as  a  Jesuit!" 

"Small  consolation,  but  i'faith  it  cheers  me,  tool" 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  105  ] 

"Naught  now  remained  but  for  the  conspirators  to  administer  the  coup 
de  grdce,  for  ne'er  had  my  position  been  weaker.  This  they  did  in  July, 
led  by  the  false  priest  John  Coode.  He  marches  on  St.  Mary's  with  an 
armed  force,  promotes  himself  to  the  rank  of  general,  and  for  all  he'd  used 
to  be  a  Catholic  himself,  shouts  Papist  and  Jesuit  to  the  skies  until  the 
whole  city  surrenders.  The  President  and  Council  flee  to  Mattapany,  where 
Coode  besieges  'em  in  the  fort  till  they  give  up  the  government  to  him. 
Then,  calling  themselves  the  Protestant  Associators,  they  beg  King  Wil- 
liam to  snatch  the  government  for  himself  I" 

"I  am  astonished!"  Ebenezer  said.  "Surely  King  William  hanged  him!" 

Charles,  who  had  been  talking  as  rapidly  and  distractedly  as  though  tell- 
ing a  rosary  of  painful  beads,  now  seemed  really  to  notice  Ebenezer  for 
the  first  time  since  commencing  the  history. 

"My  dear  Poet.  .  .  ."  He  smiled  thinly.  "William  is  at  war  with  King 
Louis:  in  the  first  place,  for  aught  anyone  knows  the  war  might  spread  to 
America,  and  he  is  most  eager  to  gain  control  of  all  the  colonies  against 
this  possibility.  In  the  second  place,  war  is  expensive,  and  my  revenues 
could  help  to  pay  his  soldiers.  In  the  third  place,  he  holds  the  crown  by 
virtue  of  an  anti-Papist  revolution,  and  I  am  a  Papist.  In  the  fourth  place, 
the  government  of  Maryland  was  imploring  him  to  rescue  the  province 
from  the  oppression  of  Catholics  and  Indians " 

"Enough,  enough!"  cried  Ebenezer.  "I  fear  me  he  snatched  it!" 

"Aye,  he  snatched  my  Maryland  from  me." 

"But  by  what  legal  right " 

"Ah,  'twas  wondrous  legal,"  said  Charles.  "William  instructed  the  At- 
torney General  to  proceed  against  my  charter  by  way  of  scire  facias,  but 
reflecting  afterwards  on  the  time  such  litigation  would  require,  and  the 
treasury's  dire  need  for  food,  and  the  possibility  of  the  Court's  finding  in 
my  favor— as  he  was  sensible  they  must  if  the  thing  were  done  aright— he 
asks  Chief  Justice  Holt  to  find  him  a  way  to  snatch  my  Maryland  with  less 
bother.  Holt  ponders  awhile,  scratches  round  till  he  recalls  that  jus  est  id 
quod  principi  placet,  and  then  declares,  in  all  solemnity,  that  though 
'twould  be  better  the  charter  were  forfeited  in  a  proper  inquisition,  yet 
since  no  inquisition  hath  been  held,  and  since  by  the  King's  own  word  the . 
matter  is  urgent,  he  thinks  the  King  might  snatch  him  the  government  on 
the  instant  and  do  his  investigating  later." 

"Why,"  said  Ebenezer,  "I  am  aghast!  Tis  like  hanging  a  man  today  and 
trying  his  crime  tomorrow!" 

Charles  nodded.  "In  August  of  1691  milord  Sir  Lionel  Copley  became 


[  106  ]  THE   SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

the  first  royal  governor  of  the  crown  colony  of  Maryland,"  he  concluded. 
"My  rank  fell  from  that  of  count  palatine,  a  veritable  prince  with  power 
of  life  and  death  over  my  subjects,  to  that  of  common  landlord,  entitled 
only  to  my  quit  rents,  my  port  duty  of  fourteen  pence  per  ton  on  foreign 
vessels,,  and  my  tobacco  duty  of  one  shilling  per  hogshead.  The  Commis- 
sioners of  the  Privy  Seal,  be't  said  to  their  credit,  disputed  Lord  Holt's 
decision,  and  in  fact  when  the  quo  warranto  was  instigated  the  allegations 
against  me  fell  to  pieces  for  lack  of  evidence,  and  no  judgment  was  found. 
But  of  course  'twas  precisely  because  he  foresaw  this  that  William  had 
leaped  ere  he  looked:  you  may  depend  on't  he  held  fast  to  Maryland, 
judgment  or  no  judgment,  and  clasps  her  yet  like  a  lover  his  mistress;  for 
Possession  is  nine  points  of  the  law  in  any  case,  and  with  a  king  'tis  parlia- 
ment, statute  book,  and  courtroom  all  together!  Tis  said  in  sooth,  A  king's 
favor  is  no  inheritance;  and  A  king  promiseth  all,  and  observeth  what  he 
will" 

"And,"  added  Ebenezer,  "He  who  eats  the  King's  goose  shall  choke  on 
the  feathers!1 

"How?"  Charles  demanded  angrily.  "D'you  twit  me,  fellow?  Think  thee 
Maryland  was  e'er  King  William's  goose?" 

"Nay,  nay!"  Ebenezer  protested,  "You  misread  the  saying!  Tis  meant  to 
signify  merely,  that  A  great  dowry  is  a  bed  full  of  brambles,  don't  you 
know:  A  great  man  and  a  great  river  are  ill  neighbors,  or  A  king's  bounty 
is  a  mixed  blessing'9 

"Enough,  I  grasp  it.  So,  then,  there  is  your  Maryland,  fellow.  Think  you 
'tis  fit  for  a  Marylandiad?" 

"I'faith,"  replied  Ebenezer,  "'twere  fitter  for  a  Jeremiad!  Ne'er  have  I 
encountered  such  a  string  of  plots,  cabals,  murthers,  and  machinations  in 
life  or  literature  as  this  history  you  relate  me— it  sets  my  head  a-twirl,  and 
chills  my  blood!" 

Charles  smiled,  "And  doth  it  haply  inspire  your  pen?" 

"Ah  God,  what  a  dolt  and  boor  must  Your  Lordship  think  me,  to  burst 
upon  you  with  grand  notions  of  couplet  and  eulogy!  I  swear  to  you  I  am 
sorry  for't:  I  shall  leave  at  once." 

.     "Stay,  stay,"  said  Charles,  as  Ebenezer  rose  to  leave.  "I  will  confess  to 
you,  this  Marylandiad  of  yours  is  not  without  interest  to  me/' 

"Nay,"  Ebenezer  said,  "you  but  chide  me  for  punishment," 

"I  am  an  old  man,"  Charles  declared,  "with  small  time  left  on  earth " 

"Heav'n  forbid!" 

"Nay,  'tis  clear  truth/'  Charles  insisted.  "The  prime  of  my  life,  and  more, 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  107  ] 

I've  laid  on  the  altar  of  a  prosperous,  well-governed  Maryland,  which  was 
given  me  in  trust  by  my  dear  father,  and  him  by  his,  to  husband  and 
improve,  and  which  I  dreamed  of  handing  on  to  my  son  a  richer,  worthier 
estate  for  my  having  ruled  it." 

"Ah,  many,  I  am  in  tears!" 

"And  now  in  my  old  age  I  find  this  shan't  be/'  Charles  continued. 
"Maryland  was  mine  to  preserve,  and  I  have  lost  her  for  good  and  all 
Moreover,  I  am  too  aged  and  infirm  to  make  another  ocean  passage  and 
so  must  die  here  in  England  without  laying  eyes  again  upon  that  land  as 
dear  to  my  heart  as  the  wife  of  my  body,,  and  whose  abduction  and  rape 
stings  me  as  e'er  did  Helen's  Menelaus." 

"I  can  bear  no  more!"  wept  Ebenezer,  patting  his  eyes  and  blowing  his 
nose  delicately  into  his  handkerchief. 

"I  have  no  authority/'  Charles  concluded,  "and  so  can  no  longer  confer 
dignities  and  titles  as  before.  But  I  declare  to  you  this,  Mr.  Cooke:  hie  you 
to  Maryland;  put  her  history  out  of  mind  and  look  you  at  her  peerless 
virtues— the  graciousness  of  her  inhabitants,  their  good  breeding  and  excel- 
lent dwelling  places,  the  majesty  of  her  laws,  the  comfort  of  her  inns  and 
ordinaries,  the  richness  and  beauty  of  her  fields,  woods,  and  waters— look  you 
at  these,  I  say;  study  them;  mark  them  well.  Then,  if  you  can,  turn  what  you 
see  to  verse;  tune  and  music  it  for  all  the  world's  ears!  Rhyme  me  such  a 
rhyme,  Eben  Cooke;  verse  me  such  a  verse,  I  charge  you;  make  me  this 
Maryland,  that  neither  time  nor  intrigue  can  rob  me  of;  that  I  can  pass  on 
to  my  son  and  my  son's  son  and  all  the  ages  of  the  world!  Sing  me  this  song, 
sir,  and  by  my  faith,  in  the  eyes  and  heart  of  Charles  Calvert  and  of  every 
Christian  lover  of  Beauty  and  Justice,  thou'rt  in  sooth  Poet  and  Laureate 
of  the  Province!  And  should  e'er  it  come  to  pass— what  against  all  hope  and 
expectation  I  nightly  pray  for  to  Holy  Mary  and  all  saints— that  one  day 
the  entire  complexion  of  things  alters,  and  my  sweet  province  is  once  again 
restored  to  her  proprietor,  then,  by  Heav'n,  I  shall  confer  you  the  title  in 
fact,  lettered  on  sheepskin,  beribboned  in  satin,  signed  by  myself,  and 
stamped  for  the  world  to  gape  at  with  the  Great  Seal  of  Maryland!" 

Ebenezer's  heart  was  too  full  for  words:  color  rushed  to  his  cheeks,  his 
features  jerked  and  boiled,  tears  sprang  to  his  eyes. 

"In  the  meantime/'  Charles  went  on,  "I  shall,  if  t  please  you,  at  least 
commission  you  to  write  the  poem.  Nay,  better,  I'll  pen  thee  a  draft  of  the 
Laureate's  commission,  and  should  God  e'er  grant  me  back  my  Maryland, 
'twill  retroact  to  this  very  day." 


[  108  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"'SheartlTis  past  belief!" 

Charles  had  his  man  fetch  him  paper,  ink,  and  quill,  and  with  the  air  of 
one  accustomed  to  the  language  of  authority,  quickly  penned  the  following 
commission: 

CHARLES  ABSOLUTE  LORD  &  PROPRIETARY  OF  THE  PROVINCES 
OF  MARYLAND  &  AVALON  LORD  BARON  OF  BALTIMORE  &  To 
Our  Trusty  and  Welbeloved  Our  Dear  Ebenezer  Cooke  Esqr  of  Cookes  Poynt 
Dorset  County  Greeting  Whereas  it  is  our  Desire  that  the  Sundrie  Excellencies 
of  Our  Province  of  Maryland  aforesaid  be  set  down  in  Verse  for  Generations 
to  Come  and  Whereas  it  is  Our  Conviction  that  Your  talents  Well  Equip 
You  for  that  Task  &*  We  Do  Will  and  Command  you  upon  the  Faith  which 
You  Owe  unto  Us  that  You  do  compose  and  construct  such  an  Epical  Poem, 
setting  forth  the  Graciousness  of  Marylands  Inhabitants,  Their  Good  Breeding 
and  Excellent  Dwelling-places,  the  Majesty  of  her  Laws,  the  Comfort  of  Her 
Inns  and  Ordinaries  &*  &*  and  to  this  Purpose  We  do  Name  and  Entitle  You 
Poet  and  Laureat  of  the  Province  of  Maryland  Aforesaid.  Witness  Ourself  at 
the  City  of  London  the  twenty-eighth  Day  of  March  in  the  eighteenth  Year 
of  Our  Dominion  over  Our  said  Province  of  Maryland  Annoq  Dom  1694 

"Out  on't!"  he  cried,  handing  the  finished  draft  to  Ebenezer.  "  Tis  done^ 
and  I  wish  you  fair  passage." 

Ebenezer  read  the  commission,  flung  himself  upon  his  knees  before  Lord 
Baltimore,  and  pressed  that  worthy's  coat  hem  to  his  lips  in  gratitude.  Then, 
mumbling  and  stumbling,  he  pocketed  the  document,  excused  himself,  and 
ran  from  the  house  into  the  bustling  streets  of  London. 


ii:    EBENEZER  RETURNS  TO  HIS  COMPANIONS,  FINDS 
THEM  FEWER  BY  ONE,  LEAVES  THEM  FEWER  BY 
ANOTHER,  AND  REFLECTS  A  REFLECTION 


"LOCKET'S!"  CRIED  EBENEZER  TO  ms  CABMAN,  ANT>  SPRANG  INTO  THE 
hackney  with  a  loose  flail  of  limbs  like  a  mismanaged  marionette.  With 
what  a  suddenness  had  he  scaled  the  lofty  reaches  of  Parnassus,  while  his 
companions  blundered  yet  in  the  foothills!  Snatching  out  his  commission, 
he  read  again  the  sweet  word  Laureat  and  the  catalogue  of  Maryland's 
excellencies. 

"Sweet  land!"  he  exclaimed.  "Pregnant  with  song!  Thy  deliverer  ap- 
proachethl" 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  log  ] 

There  was  a  conceit  worth  saving,  he  reflected:  such  subtle  vistas  of  mean- 
ing in  the  word  deliverer,  for  instance,  with  its  twin  suggestions  of  midwife 
and  savior!  He  lamented  having  no  pen  nor  any  paper  other  than  Balti- 
more's commission,  which  after  kissing  he  tucked  away  in  his  coat. 

"I  must  purchase  me  a  notebook,"  he  decided.  "  Twere  a  pity  such  wild- 
flowers  should  die  unplucked.  No  more  may  I  think  merely  of  my  own 
delight,  for  a  laureate  belongs  to  the  world/' 

Soon  the  hackney  cab  reached  Locket's,  and  after  rewarding  the  driver 
most  handsomely,  Ebenezer  hurried  to  find  his  colleagues,  whom  he'd  not 
seen  since  the  night  of  the  wager.  Once  inside,  however,  he  assumed  a 
slower,  more  dignified  pace,  in  keeping  with  his  position,  and  weaved 
through  the  crowded  tables  to  where  he  spied  his  friends. 

Dick  Merriweather,  throwing  back  his  head  to  down  a  half  pint  of  sack, 
noticed  him  first. 

"  'Sblood!"  he  shouted.  "Look  ye  yonder,  what  comes  hitherl  Am  I 
addled  with  the  sack,  or  is't  Lazarus  untombed  and  walking?" 

"How  now!"  Tom  Trent  joined  in.  "Hath  the  spring  wind  thawed  ye, 
dear  boy?  I  feared  me  you  was  ossified  for  good  and  all." 

"Thawed?"  said  Ben  Oliver,  and  winked.  "Nay,  Tom,  for  how  could  such 
a  lover  e'er  be  chilled?  'Tis  my  guess  he's  only  now  regained  his  strength 
from  his  mighty  joust  the  night  of  our  wager  and  is  back  to  take  all  comers." 

"Lightly,  Ben,"  reproved  Tom  Trent,  and  glanced  apprehensively  at 
John  McEvoy  beside  him,  who,,  however,  was  entirely  absorbed  in  regarding 
Ebenezer  and  seemed  not  to  have  heard  the  remark.  "  'Tis  unbecoming  a 
good  fellow,  to  hold  a  grudge  so  long  o'er  such  a  trifle." 

"Nay,  nay,"  Ben  insisted.  "What  more  pleasant  or  instructive,  I  ask  you, 
than  to  hear  of  great  deeds  from  the  lips  of  their  doers?  Hither  with  thee, 
Ebenezer  lad.  Take  a  pot  with  us  and  tell  us  all  plainly,  as  a  man  amongst 
men:  What  think  you  now  of  this  Joan  Toast  that  you  did  swive?  How  is 
she  in  the  bed,  I  mean,  and  what  fearsome  bargain  did  you  drive  for  your 
five  guineas,  that  we've  seen  none  of  you  this  entire  week,  or  her  since? 
Marry,  what  a  man!" 

"Curb  your  evil  tongue,"  Ebenezer  commanded  crisply,  taking  a  seat. 
"You  know  the  story  as  well  as  I." 

"Hi!"  cried  Ben,  taken  aback.  "Such  bravery!  What,  will  you  say  naught 
by  way  of  explanation  or  defense  when  a  very  trollop  scorns  you?" 

Ebenezer  shrugged.  "  'Tis  near  as  e'er  she'll  come  to  greatness." 

"Great  Heav'nl"  Tom  Trent  exclaimed,  voicing  the  general  astonish- 


[lio]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

ment.  "Who  is  this  stranger  with  the  brave  replies?  I  know  the  face  and  I 
know  the  voice,  but  b'm'faith,  'tis  not  the  Eben  Cooke  of  old!" 

"Nay,"  agreed  Dick  Merriweather,  "  'tis  some  swaggering  impostor.  The 
Cooke  I  knew  was  e'er  a  shy  fellow,  something  stiff  in  the  joints,  and  no 
great  hand  at  raillery.  Know  you  aught  of  his  whereabouts?"  he  asked 
Ebenezer. 

"Aye"— Ebenezer  smiled— "I  know  him  well,  for  'twas  I  alone  saw  him 
die  and  wrote  his  elegy." 

"And  prithee,  sir,  what  carried  him  off?"  inquired  Ben  Oliver  with  as 
much  of  a  sneer  as  could  be  salvaged  from  his  recent  confounding.  "Belike 
'twas  the  pain  of  unrequited  love?" 

"Your  ignorance  of  the  facts,"  Ebenezer  replied,  "is  matched  only 
by  the  deficiency  of  your  imagination.  The  truth  of  the  matter  is,  sirs,  he 
perished  in  childbirth  the  night  of  the  wager  and  never  learned  that  what 
he'd  been  suffering  was  the  pains  of  labor— the  more  intense,  for  that  he'd 
carried  the  fetus  since  childhood  and  was  brought  to  bed  oft  uncommon 
late.  Howbeit,  'twas  the  world's  good  luck  he  had  him  an  able  midwife, 
who  delivered  full-grown  the  man  you  see  before  you." 

"Ffaith!"  declared  Dick  Merriweather.  "I  have  fair  lost  sight  o'  you  in 
this  Hampton  Court  Hedge  of  a  conceit!  Speak  literally,  £n't  please  you,  if 
only  for  a  sentence,  and  lay  open  plainly  what  is  signified  by  all  this  talk  of 
death  and  midwives  and  the  rest  of  the  allegory." 

"I  shall,"  smiled  Ebenezer,  "but  I  would  Joan  Toast  were  present  to 
hear't,  inasmuch  as  'twas  she  who  played  all  innocently  the  midwife's  part. 
Do  fetch  her,  McEvoy,  that  all  the  world  may  know  I  bear  no  ill  will  towards 
either  of  you.  Albeit  you  acted  from  malice,  yet,  as  the  proverb  hath  it, 
Many  a  thing  groweih  in  the  garden,  that  was  not  planted  there;  or  even 
A  man's  fortune  may  be  made  by  his  enviers.  Certain  it  is,  your  mischief 
bore  fruit  beyond  my  grandest  dreams!  You  said  of  me  once  that  I  compre- 
hend naught  of  life,  and  perchance  'tis  true;  but  you  must  allow  farther 
that  Fools  rush  in  where  wise  men  fear  to  tread,  and  that  A  castle  may  be 
taken  by  storm,  that  ne'er  would  fall  to  siege.  The  fact  is,  I've  wondrous 
news  to  tell.  Will  you  summon  her?" 

Ever  since  Ebenezer's  appearance  in  the  winehouse,  and  throughout  all 
the  raillery  and  allegorizing,  McEvoy  had  sat  quietly,  even  sullenly,  without 
comment  or  apparent  curiosity.  Now,  however,  he  got  up  from  his  place, 
growled  "Summon  her  yourself,  damn  ye!"  and  left  the  tavern  in  a  great 
sulk. 

"What  ails  him?"  asked  Ebenezer.  "The  man  meant  me  a  dastard  injury 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  111  ] 

—doth  it  chagrin  him  that  it  misfired  into  fortune?  Twas  a  civil  request;  did 
I  know  Joan's  whereabouts  I'd  fetch  her  myself." 

"So  I  doubt  not  would  he/'  Ben  Oliver  said. 

"What  is't  you  say?" 

"Did  you  not  hear  it  said  before,"  asked  Tom  Trent,  "that  nor  hide  nor 
hair  of  your  Joan  have  we  seen  these  three  days  past?" 

"I  took  it  for  a  simple  twit,"  said  Ebenezer.  "You  mean  she's  gone  in 
sooth?" 

"Aye,"  affirmed  Dick,  "the  tart  is  vanished  from  sight,  and  not  her  hus- 
band nor  any  soul  else  knows  aught  oft.  The  last  anyone  saw  of  her  was 
the  day  after  the  wager.  She  was  in  a  fearful  fret " 

"I'faith,"  put  in  Ben,  "there  was  no  speaking  to  the  woman!" 

"We  took  it  for  a  pout,"  Dick  went  on,  "forasmuch  as  you'd That  is 

to  say " 

"She'd  scorned  four  guineas  from  a  good  man,"  Ben  declared  in  a  last 
effort  at  contempt,  "and  got  in  exchange  a  penceless  preachment  from " 

"From  Ebenezer  Cooke,  my  friends,"  Ebenezer  finished,  unable  to  hold 
back  the  news  any  longer,  "who  this  very  day  hath  been  named  by  Lord 
Baltimore  to  be  Poet  and  Laureate  of  the  entire  Province  of  Maryland! 
And  you've  not  seen  the  wench  since,  you  say?" 

But  none  heard  the  question:  they  looked  at  each  other  and  at  Ebenezer. 

"Egad!" 

"'Sblood!" 

"Is't  true?  Thou'rt  Laureate  of  Maryland?" 

"Aye,"  said  Ebenezer,  who  actually  had  said  only  that  he'd  been  named 
Laureate,  but  deemed  it  too  late,  among  other  things,  to  clarify  the 
misunderstanding.  "I  sail  a  few  days  hence  for  America,  to  manage  the 
estate  where  I  was  born,  and  by  command  of  Lord  Baltimore  to  do  the 
office  of  Laureate  for  the  colony." 

"Have  you  commission  and  all?"  Tom  Trent  marveled. 

Ebenezer  did  not  hesitate.  "The  Laureate's  commission  is  in  the  writ- 
ing," he  explained,  "but  already  I'm  commissioned  to  turn  him  a  poem." 
He  pretended  to  search  his  pockets  and  came  up  with  the  document  in  his 
coat,  which  he  passed  around  the  table  to  great  effect. 

"By  Heav'n  'tis  true!"  Tom  said  reverently. 

"Laureate  of  Maryland!  It  staggers  me!"  said  Dick. 

"I  will  confess,"  said  Ben,  visibly  awed,  "I'd  ne'er  have  guessed  it  possible. 
But  out  on't!  Here's  a  pot  to  you,  Master  Laureate!  Hi  there,  barman,  a  pint 
all  around!  Come,  Tom!  Ho,  Dick!  Let's  have  a  health,  nowl" 


[  112  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"Gladly!" 

"Here's  to  him!" 

"I  hope  I  may  call  it,"  said  Ben,  putting  his  arm  about  Ebenezer's 
shoulders,  "for  'tis  many  a  night  old  Eben's  taken  my  twitting  in  good 
grace,  that  would  have  rankled  a  meaner  spirit.  Twould  be  as  fair  an  honor 
to  propose  this  health  t'you,  friend,  as  'twill  be  for  me  to  pay  for't.  Prithee 
grant  me  that,  and  'twere  proof  of  a  grace  commensurate  to  thy  talent." 

"Your  praise  flatters  me  the  more,"  Ebenezer  said  modestly,  "for  that  I 
know  you— how  well!— to  be  no  flatterer.  Tis  a  double  honor,"  he  pointed 
out  further,  "to  be  toasted  by  such  a  toaster,  and  by  how  much  the  less  I 
merit  your  compliments,  by  so  much  the  more  am  I  humbled  by  'em.  In 
fine,  toast  away  if  you  will,  and  a  long  life  to  you!" 

The  waiter  had  by  this  time  brought  the  pints,  and  the  four  men  raised 
their  glasses. 

"Nay,"  cried  Ben,  thinking  better  of  it,  "all  London  must  know  it!  Hi 
there,,  sots  and  poetasters!"  He  shouted  to  the  house  at  large,  springing  up 
on  the  table.  "Put  by  your  gossip  for  the  nonce  and  drink  a  health  with  me— 
as  worthy  a  health  as  e'er  was  drunk  under  these  rafters!" 

"Nay,  I  beg  you,  Ben!"  Ebenezer  protested,  tugging  Ben's  coat 

"Hear!"  cried  several  patrons,  for  Ben  was  a  favorite  among  them. 

"Drag  off  yon  skinny  fop  and  raise  your  glasses!"  someone  cried. 

"Scramble  up  here,"  Ben  ordered,  and  Ebenezer  was  lifted  willy-nilly  to 
the  table  top,  somewhat  uncertain  about  the  propriety  of  accepting  the 
compliment. 

"To  the  long  life,  good  health,  and  unfailing  talent  of  Ebenezer  Cooke," 
Ben  proposed,  and  everyone  in  the  room  raised  his  glass,  "who  while  we 
lesser  fry  spent  our  energies  braying  and  strutting,  sat  aloof  and  husbanded 
his  own,  and  crowed  him  not  a  crow  nor,  knowing  himself  an  eagle,  cared 
a  bean  what  barnyard  fowl  thought  of  him;  and  who,  therefore,  while  the 
rest  of  us  cocks  must  scratch  our  dunghills  in  feeble  envy,  hath  spread  his 
wings  and  taken  flight,  for  who  can  tell  what  lofty  eyrie!  I  give  thee 
Ebenezer  Cooke,  lads,  twitted  and  teased  by  all— none  more  than  myself— 
who  this  day  was  made  Poet  and  Laureate  of  the  Province  of  Maryland!" 

A  general  murmur  went  round  the  room,  followed  by  a  clamor  of  polite 
congratulation  that  rushed  like  wine  to  Ebenezer's  heaH,  for  it  was  the  first 
such  experience  in  the  entire  span  of  his  life. 

"I  thank  you,"  he  said  thickly  to  the  room,  his  eyes  filling.  "I  can  say 
no  more!" 

"Hear!  Hear!" 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [l1?] 

"A  poem,  sir!"  someone  called. 

"Aye,  a  poem!" 

Ebenezer  got  hold  of  himself  and  stayed  the  clamor  with  a  gesture. 
"Nay,"  he  said,  "the  muse  is  no  minstrel,  that  sings  for  a  pot  in  the  taverns; 
besides,  I've  not  a  line  upon  me.  This  is  the  place  for  a  toast,  not  for  poetry, 
and  'twill  greatly  please  me  do  you  join  my  toast  to  my  magnanimous 
patron  Lord  Baltimore " 

A  few  glasses  went  up,  but  not  many,  for  anti-Papist  feeling  was  running 
high  in  London. 

"To  the  Maryland  Muse "  Ebenezer  added,  perceiving  the  small 

response,  and  got  a  few  more  hands  for  his  trouble. 

"To  Poetry,  fairest  of  the  arts"— many  additional  glasses  were  raised— 
"and  to  every  poet  and  good-fellow  in  this  tavern,  which  for  gay  and  gifted 
patrons  hath  not  its  like  in  the  hemisphere!" 

"Hearl"  the  crowd  saluted,  and  downed  the  toast  to  a  man. 

It  was  near  midnight  when  Ebenezer  returned  at  last  to  his  rooms,  dizzy 
from  excessive  wine  and  applause.  He  called  in  vain  for  Bertrand  and  tipsily 
commenced  undressing,  still  very  full  of  his  success.  But  whether  because  of 
the  silence  of  his  room  after  Locket's  or  the  unhappy  sight  of  his  bed  lying 
still  unmade  as  he'd  left  it  in  the  morning,  the  linens  all  rumpled  and  soiled 
from  his  four  days'  despair,  or  some  more  subtle  agency,  his  gaiety  seemed 
to  leave  him  with  his  clothes;  when  at  length  he  had  stripped  himself  of 
shoes,  drawers,  shirt,  and  periwig,  and  stood  shaved,  shorn,  and  mother- 
naked  in  the  center  of  his  room,  his  mind  was  dull,,  his  eyes  listless,  his 
stance  uncertain.  The  great  success  of  his  first  plunge  still  thrilled  him  to 
contemplate,  but  no  longer  was  it  entirely  a  pleasurable  excitement.  His 
stomach  felt  weak.  All  that  Charles  had  told  him  of  the  tumultuous  history 
of  Maryland  came  like  a  bad  dream  to  his  memory,  and  turning  out  the 
lamp  he  hurried  to  the  window  for  fresh  air. 

Despite  the  hour,  London  bristled  in  the  darkness  beneath  and  all  around 
him  with  a  quiet  roar,  from  which  came  at  intervals  here  a  drunkard's 
shout,  there  a  cabman's  curse,  the  laughter  of  a  streetwalker,  the  whinny  of 
a  horse.  A  damp  spring  breeze  moved  in  off  the  Thames  and  breathed  on 
him:  out  there  on  the  river  that  winds  through  the  city,  anchors  were  being 
weighed  and  catted,  sails  unfurled  from  yards  and  sheeted  home,  bearings 
taken,  soundings  called,  and  dark  ships  run  down  the  tide,  out  the  black 
Channel,  and  thence  to  the  boundless  ocean,  cresting  and  tossing  under 
the  moon.  Great  restless  creatures  were  stirring  and  gliding  in  the  depths; 


[114]  THE   SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

pale  gray  sea  birds  wheeling  and  shrieking  down  the  night  wind,  or  planing 
wildly  against  the  scud.  And  could  one  then  suppose  that  somewhere  far 
out  under  the  stars  there  really  lay  a  Maryland,  against  whose  long  sand 
coasts  the  black  sea  foamed?  That  at  that  very  instant,  peradventure,  some 
naked  Indian  prowled  the  reedy  dunes  or  stalked  his  quarry  down  whisper- 
ing aisles  of  the  forest? 

Ebenezer  shuddered,  turned  from  the  window,  and  drew  the  curtains 
fast.  His  stomach  was  extremely  uneasy.  He  lay  down  on  the  bed  and  tried 
to  sleep,  but  with  no  success:  the  daring  of  his  interview  with  Charles 
Calvert,  and  all  that  followed  on  it,  kept  him  tossing  and  turning  long 
after  his  muscles  had  begun  to  ache  and  his  eyes  to  bum  for  sleep.  The 
specters  of  William  Claiborne,  Richard  Ingle,  William  Penn,  Josias 
Fendall,  and  John  Coode— their  strange  and  terrible  energy,  their  in- 
trigues and  insurrections—chilled  and  sickened  him  but  refused  to  be  driven 
from  his  awareness;  and  he  could  not  give  over  remembering  and  pronounc- 
ing his  title  even  after  repetition  had  taken  pleasure  and  sense  from  the 
epithet  and  left  it  a  nightmare  string  of  empty  sounds.  His  saliva  ran  freely; 
he  was  going  to  be  ill.  Poet  and  Laureate  of  the  Province  of  Maryland! 
He  had  leaped  astride  life  and  set  out  on  his  journey.  There  was  no  turning 
back  now.  Out  under  the  night,  Maryland  and  his  single  mortal  destiny 
awaited  him. 

"Ah,  God!"  he  wept  at  last,  and  sprang  from  the  bed  in  an  icy  sweat. 
Running  to  the  chamber  pot  he  flung  off  the  lid  and  with  a  retch  heaved 
into  it  the  wine  of  his  triumph.  Once  delivered  of  it,  he  felt  somewhat 
calmer:  he  returned  to  the  bed,  clasped  his  knees  against  his  chest  to  quiet 
the  agitation  of  his  stomach,  and  so  contrived,  after  countless  fretful  sighs, 
a  sort  of  sleep. 


PART  II:      GOING  TO  MALDEN 


i:  THE  LAUREATE  ACQUIRES  A  NOTEBOOK 


HAPPILY,  WHATEVER  TREPIDATIONS  OR  DANK  NIGHT  DOUBTS  HAD  LATELY 

plagued  the  Laureate's  repose,  when  the  sun  rose  next  morning  over  Lon- 
don they  were  burned  off  with  the  mist  of  the  Thames;  he  woke  at  nine 
refreshed  in  body  and  spirit,  and,  when  he  remembered  the  happenings  of 
the  day  before  and  his  new  office,  it  was  with  unalloyed  delight. 

"Bertrand!  You,  Bertrandl"  he  called,  springing  from  the  bed.  "Are  you 
there,  fellow?" 

His  man  appeared  at  once  from  the  next  room. 

"Did  you  sleep  well,  sir?" 

"Like  a  silly  babe.  What  a  morning!  It  ravishes  me!" 

"Methought  I  heard  ye  taken  with  the  heaves  last  night." 

"  'Sheart,  a  sour  pint,  belike,  at  Locket's,"  Ebenezer  replied  lightly,  "or 
a  stein  of  green  ale.  Fetch  my  shirt  there,  will  you?  There's  a  good  fellow. 
Egad,  what  smells  as  fresh  as  new-pressed  linen  or  feels  as  clean?" 

"  Tis  a  marvel  ye  threw  it  off  so.  Such  a  groaning  and  a  hollowing!" 

"Indeed?"  Ebenezer  laughed  and  began  to  dress  with  leisurely  care. 
"Nay,  not  those;  my  knit  cottons  today.  Hollowing,  you  say?  Some  passing 
nightmare,  I  doubt  not;  I've  no  memory  oft  Nothing  to  fetch  surgeon  or 
priest  about." 

"Priest,  sir!"  Bertrand  exclaimed  with  a  measure  of  alarm.  "Tis  true, 
then,  what  they  say?" 

"It  may  be,  or  it  may  not.  Who  are  they,  and  what  is  their  story?" 

"Some  have  it,  sir,"  Bertrand  replied  glibly,  "thou'rt  in  Lord  Baltimore's 
employ,  who  all  the  world  knows  is  a  famous  Papist,  and  that  'twas  only  on 
your  conversion  to  Rome  he  gave  ye  your  post." 

"  'Dslife!"  Ebenezer  turned  to  his  man  incredulously.  "What  scurrilous 
libel!  How  came  you  to  hear  it?" 

Bertrand  blushed.  "Begging  your  pardon,  sir,  ye  may  have  marked  ere 
now  that  albeit  I  am  a  bachelor,  I  am  not  without  interest  in  the  ladies, 
and  that,  to  speak  plainly,  I  and  a  certain  young  serving  maid  belowstairs 
have,  ah,  what  ye  might  call  -  " 


[ll8]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"An  understanding,"  Ebenezer  suggested  impatiently.  "Do  I  know  it, 
you  scoundrel?  D'you  think  I've  not  heard  the  twain  of  you  clipping  and 
tumbling  the  nights  away  in  your  room,  when  you  thought  me  asleep? 
I'faith,  'tis  enough  to  wake  the  dead!  If  my  poor  puking  cost  you  an  hour's 
sleep  last  night,  'tis  not  the  hundredth  part  of  what  I  owe  you!  Is't  she  told 
you  this  tale  of  a  cock  and  a  bull?" 

"Aye,"  admitted  Bertrand,  "but  'twas  not  of  her  making." 

'Whence  came  it,  then?  Get  to  the  point,  man!  Tis  a  sorry  matter  when 
a  poet  cannot  accept  an  honor  without  suffering  on  the  instant  the  slanders 
of  the  envious,  or  make  a  harmless  trope  without  his  man's  crying  Popery!" 

"I  crave  your  pardon,  sir,"  said  Bertrand.  "  Twas  no  accusation,  only 
concern;  I  thought  it  my  duty  to  tell  ye  what  your  enemies  are  saying.  The 
fact  is,  sir,  my  Betsy,  who  is  a  hot-blooded,  affectionate  lass,  hath  the  bad 
luck  to  be  married,  and  that  to  a  lackluster,  chilly  fellow  whose  only  passions 
are  ambition  and  miserliness,  and  who,  though  he'd  like  a  sturdy  son  to 
bring  home  extra  wages,  is  as  sparing  with  caresses  as  with  coins.  Such  a 
money-grubber  is  he  that,  after  a  day's  work  as  a  clerk's  apprentice  in  the 
Customs  House,  he  labors  half  the  night  as  a  fiddler  in  Locket's  to  put  by 
an  extra  crown,  with  the  excuse  'tis  a  nest  egg  against  the  day  she  finds 
herself  with  child.  But  'sblood,  'tis  such  a  tax  on  his  time  that  he  scarce  sees 
her  from  one  day  to  the  next  and  on  his  strength  that  he  hath  not  the 
wherewithal  to  roger  what  time  he's  with  her!  It  seemed  a  sinful  waste  to 
•  me  to  see,  on  the  one  hand,  poor  Betsy  alone  and  all  a-fidget  for  want  of 
husbanding,  and  on  the  other  her  husband  Ralph  a-hoarding  money  to  no 
purpose,  and  so  like  a  proper  Samaritan  I  did  what  I  could  for  the  both  of 
'em:  Ralph  fiddled  and  I  diddled." 

"How's  that,  you  rascal?  The  both  of  'em!  Small  favor  to  the  husband, 
to  bless  him  with  horns!  What  a  villainy!" 

"Ah,  on  the  contrary,  sir,  if  I  may  say  so,  'twas  a  double  boon  I  did  him, 
for  not  only  did  I  plough  his  field,  which  else  had  lain  fallow,  but  seeded  it 
as  well,  and  from  every  sign  'twill  be  a  bumper  crop  come  fall.  Look  ye, 
sir,  ere  ye  judge  me  a  monster;  the  lad  knew  naught  but  toil  and  thankless 
drudgery  before  and  took  no  pleasure  in't,  save  the  satisfaction  of  drawing 
his  wage.  He  came  home  to  a  wife  who  carped  and  quarreled  for  lack  o'  love 
and  was  set  to  leave  him  for  good,  which  would've  been  the  death  of  him. 
Now  he  works  harder  than  ever,  proud  as  a  peacock  he's  got  a  son  a-building, 
and  his  clerking  and  fiddling  have  changed  from  mere  labor  to  royal  sport. 
As  for  Betsy,  that  was  wont  to  nag  and  bark  at  him  before,  she's  turned 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  119  ] 

sweet  as  a  sugar-tit  and  jumps  to  his  every  whim  and  fancy;  she  would  not 
leave  him  for  the  Duke  o'  York.  Man  and  wife  are  both  the  happier  fort/' 

"And  thou'rt  the  richer  by  a  mistress  that  costs  you  not  a  farthing  to 
keep,"  Ebenezer  added,  "and  on  whom  you  may  get  a  household  of 
bastards  with  impunity!" 

Bertrand  shrugged,  adjusting  his  master's  cravat. 

"As't  happens,  yes,"  he  admitted*  "though  I  hear't  said  that  virtue  is  its 
own  reward." 

"Then  'twas  this  cuckold  of  a  fiddler  started  the  story?"  demanded 
Ebenezer.  "I'll  take  the  wretch  to  court!" 

"Nay,  'twas  but  gossip  he  passed  on  to  Betsy  last  night,  who  passed  it 
on  to  me  this  morning.  He  had  it  from  the  drinkers  at  Locket's,  after  all  the 
toasting  was  done  and  you  were  gone." 

"Unconscionable  envy  and  malice!"  Ebenezer  cried.  "Do  you  believe  it?" 

"Many,  sir,  'tis  no  concern  o'  mine  what  persuasion  ye  follow.  I'll  confess 
I  wondered,  after  Betsy  told  me,  whether  all  thy  hollowing  and  pitching 
last  night  was  not  a  free-for-all  'twixt  you  and  your  conscience,  or  some 
strange  Papish  ceremony,  for  I  know  they've  a  bag  of  'em  for  every  time 
o'day.  B'm'faith,  'twere  mere  good  business,  methinks,  to  take  his  supersti- 
tious vows  for  him,  if  that's  the  condition  for  the  post.  Soon  or  late,  we  all 
must  strike  our  bargains  with  the  world.  Everything  hath  its  price,  and 
yours  was  no  dear  one,  inasmuch  as  neither  milord  Baltimore  nor  any  other 
Jesuit  can  see  what's  in  your  heart.  All  ye  need  do  is  say  him  his  hey-nonny- 
nonnies  whenever  he's  there  to  hear  'em;  as  for  the  rest  of  the  world,  'tis 
none  o'  their  concern  what  office  ye  hold,  or  what  it  cost  ye,  or  who  got  it 
for  ye.  Keep  mum  on't,  draw  your  pay,  and  let  the  Pope  and  the  world 
go  hang." 

"Lord,  hear  the  cynic!"  said  Ebenezer.  "My  word  on't,  Bertrand,  I 
struck  no  bargain  with  Lord  Baltimore^  nor  dickered  and  haggled  any  quid 
pro  quos.  I'm  no  more  Papist  this  morning  than  I  was  last  week,  and  as  for 
salary,  my  office  pays  me  not  a  shilling." 

"  Tis  the  soundest  stand  to  take,"  Bertrand  nodded  knowingly,  "if  any 
man  questions  ye." 

"  'Tis  the  simple  truth!  And  so  far  from  keeping  my  appointment  secret, 
I  mean  to  declare  it  to  all  and  sundry— within  the  bounds  of  modesty,  of 
course/' 

"Ah,  ye'll  regret  that!"  Bertrand  warned.  "If  ye  declare  the  office,  'tis  no 
use  denying  ye  turned  Papist  to  get  it.  The  world  believes  what  it  pleases." 


[  12O  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"And  doth  it  relish  naught  save  slander  and  spite  and  fantastical 
allegation?" 

"  Tis  not  so  fantastic  a  story/'  Bertrand  said,  "though  mind  ye,  I  don't 
say  'tis  true.  There's  a  lot  goes  on  behind  the  scenes,  if  ye  just  but  knew 
it.  More  history's  made  by  secret  handshakes  than  by  battles,  bills,  and 
proclamations!9 

"And  are  all  human  motives  really  so  despicable?" 

"Aye,  sir.  Why  do  you  ask?" 

"Nay,  nay!"  Ebenezer  protested.  "Such  libels  are  but  the  weapon  of  the 
mediocre  against  the  talented.  Those  fops  at  Locket's  daren't  allow  the 
legitimacy  of  my  laureateship,  inasmuch  as  'twere  but  a  declaration  of  their 
own  lack  of  ability.  They  slander  me  to  solace  themselves!  As  for  your 
cynical  philosophy,  that  sees  a  plot  in  every  preferment,  methinks  'tis  but 
mere  wishful  thinking,  the  mark  of  a  domestical  mind,  which  attributes  to 
the  world  at  large  all  the  drama  and  dark  excitement  that  it  fails  to  find 
in  its  own  activity." 

"  Tis  all  above  me,  this  philosophy/'  Bertrand  said.  "I  know  only  what 
they  say." 

"Popery  indeed!  Dear  God,  I  am  ill  of  London!  Fetch  my  traveling  wig, 
Bertrand;  I  shan't  abide  another  day  in  this  place!" 

"Where  will  ye  go,  sir?" 

"To  Plymouth,  by  the  afternoon  coach.  See  to't  my  chests  and  trunks  are 
packed  and  loaded,,  will  you?  'Sheart,  how  shall  I  endure  e'en  another 
morning  in  this  vicious  city?" 

"Plymouth  so  soon,  sir?"  asked  Bertrand, 

"Aye,  the  sooner  the  better.  Have  you  found  a  place?" 

"I  fear  not,  sir.  Tis  a  bad  season  to  seek  one,  my  Betsy  says,  and  'tis  not 
every  place  I'd  take." 

"Ah  well,  no  great  matter.  These  rooms  are  hired  till  April's  end,  and 
thou'rt  free  to  use  'em  if  you  choose.  Your  wage  is  paid  ahead,  and  I've 
another  crown  for  you  if  my  bags  are  on  the  Plymouth  coach  betimes." 

"I  ihank  ye,  sir.  I  would  ye  weren't  going,  I  swear't,  but  ye  may  depend 
on't  your  gear  will  be  stowed  on  the  coach.  Marry,  I'll  not  soon  find  me  a 
civiler  master!" 

"Thou'rt  a  good  fellow,  Bertrand,"  Ebenezer  smiled.  <cWere't  not  for 
my  niggard  allowance,  I'd  freight  thee  to  Maryland  with  me." 

"I'faith,  I've  no  stomach  for  bears  and  salvages,  sir!  An't  please  ye,  I'll 
stay  behind  and  let  my  Betsy  comfort  me  for  losing  ye." 

"Then  good  luck  to  you,"  said  Ebenezer  as  he  left,  "and  may  your  son 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTO*  [  121  ] 

be  a  strapping  fellow.  I  shan't  return  here:  I  mean  to  waste  the  whole 
morning  buying  a  notebook  for  my  voyage,  rather  than  pass  another  minute 
in  Locket's  or  some  other  den  of  gossip.  Haply  I'll  see  you  at  the  posthouse." 
"Good  day  then,  sir,"  Bertrand  said,  "and  fare  thee  welll" 

Irksome  as  was  his  false  friends'  slander,  it  soon  slipped  from  Ebenezer's 
mind  once  he  was  out  of  doors.  The  day  was  too  fair,  his  spirits  too  high,  for 
him  to  brood  much  over  simple  envy.  "Leave  small  thoughts  to  small 
minds,"  said  he  to  himself,  and  so  dismissed  the  matter. 

Much  more  important  was  the  business  at  hand:  choosing  and  purchasing 
a  notebook.  Already  his  delicious  trope  of  the  day  before,  which  he'd 
wanted  to  set  down  for  future  generations,  was  gone  from  his  memory;  how 
many  others  in  years  gone  by  had  passed  briefly  through  his  mind,  like 
lovely  women  through  a  room,  and  gone  forever?  It  must  happen  no  more. 
Let  the  poetaster  and  occasional  dabbler-in-letters  affect  that  careless  fe- 
cundity which  sneers  at  notes  and  commonplace  books:  the  mature  and 
dedicated  artist  knows  better,  hoards  every  gem  he  mines  from  the  mother 
lode  of  fancy,  and  at  his  leisure  sifts  the  diamonds  from  the  lesser  stones. 

He  went  to  the  establishment  of  one  Benjamin  Bragg,  at  the  Sign  of  the 
Raven  in  Paternoster  Row— a  printer,  bookseller,  and  stationer  whom  he 
and  many  of  his  companions  patronized.  The  shop  was  a  clearinghouse  for 
minor  literary  gossip;  Bragg  himself— a  smiling,  waspish,  bright-eyed,  honey- 
voiced  little  man  in  his  forties  of  whom  it  was  rumored  that  he  was  a 
Sodomite— knew  virtually  everyone  of  literary  pretensions  in  the  city,  and 
though  he  was,  after  all,  but  a  common  tradesmen,  his  favor  was  much 
sought  after.  Ebenezer  had  been  uncomfortable  in  the  place  ever  since  his 
first  introduction  to  the  proprietor  and  clientele  some  years  before.  He  had 
always,  until  the  previous  day,  been  of  at  least  two  minds  about  his  own 
talent,  as  about  everything  else— confident  on  the  one  hand  (From  how 
many  hackle-raising  ecstasies!  From  how  many  transports  of  inspiration!) 
that  he  was  blessed  with  the  greatest  gift  since  blind  John  Milton's  and 
was  destined  to  take  literature  singlehandedly  by  the  breech  and  stand  it 
upon  its  periwig;  equally  certain,  on  the  other  (From  how  many  sloughs 
of  gloom,  hours  of  museless  vacancy,  downright  immobilities!)  that  .he  was 
devoid  even  of  talent,  to  say  nothing  of  genius;  a  bumbler,  a  stumbler,  a 
witless  poser  like  many  another— and  his  visits  to  Bragg's  place,  whose 
poised  habitues  reduced  him  to  mumbling  ataxia  in  half  an  instant,  never 
failed  to  convert  him  to  the  latter  opinion,  though  in  other  circumstances 


[  122  ]  THE   SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

he  could  explain  away  their  cleverness  to  his  advantage.  In  any  case,  he  was 
in  the  habit  of  disguising  his  great  uneasiness  with  the  mask  of  diffidence, 
and  Bragg  rarely  noticed  him  at  all. 

It  was  to  his  considerable  satisfaction,  therefore,  that  when  this  time  he 
entered  the  establishment  and  discreetly  asked  one  of  the  apprentices  to 
show  him  some  notebooks,  Bragg  himself,  catching  sight  of  him,  dismissed 
the  boy  and  left  the  short,  wigless  customer  with  whom  he'd  been  gossiping 
in  order  to  serve  him  personally. 

"Dear  Mr.  Cooke!"  he  cried.  "You  must  accept  my  felicitations  on  your 
distinction!" 

"What?  Oh,  indeed/'  Ebenezer  smiled  modestly.  "However  did  you  hear 
oft  so  soon?" 

"So  soon!"  Bragg  warbled.  "Tis  the  talk  o'  London!  I  had  it  yesterday 
from  dear  Ben  Oliver,  and  today  from  a  score  of  others.  Laureate  of 
Maryland!  Tell  me,"  he  asked,  with  careful  ingenuousness,  "was't  by  Lord 
Baltimore's  appointment,  as  some  say,  or  by  the  King's?  Ben  Oliver  declares 
'twas  from  Baltimore  and  vows  he'll  turn  Quaker  and  seek  the  same  of 
William  Penn  for  Pennsylvania!" 

"'Twas  Lord  Baltimore  honored  me,"  Ebenezer  replied  coolly,  "who, 
though  a  Romanist,  is  as  civil  a  gentleman  as  any  I've  met  and  hath  a 
wondrous  ear  for  verse." 

"I  am  certain  oft,"  Bragg  agreed,  "though  I've  ne'er  met  the  man. 
Prithee,  sir,  how  came  he  to  know  your  work?  We're  all  of  us  a-flutter  to 
read  you,  yet  search  as  I  may  I  can't  find  a  poem  of  yours  in  print,  nor  hath 
anyone  I've  asked  heard  so  much  as  a  line  of  your  verse.  Marry,  I'll  confess 
it:  we  scarce  knew  you  wrote  any!" 

"A  man  may  love  his  house  and  yet  not  ride  on  the  ridgepole,"  observed 
Ebenezer,  "and  a  man  may  be  no  less  a  poet  for  not  declaiming  in  every 
inn  and  ordinary  or  printing  up  his  creatures  to  be  peddled  like  chestnuts 
on  London  Bridge." 

"Well  said!"  Bragg  chortled,  clapped  his  hands,  and  bounced  on  his  heels. 
"Oh,  pungently  put!  'Twill  be  repeated  at  every  table  in  Locket's  for  a 
fortnight!  Ah,  'slife,  masterfully  put!"  He  dabbed  his  eyes  with  his  handker- 
chief. "Would  you  tell  me,  Mr.  Cooke,  if  t  be  not  too  prying  a  question, 
whether  Lord  Baltimore  did  you  this  honor  in  the  form  of  a  recommenda- 
tion for  King  William  and  the  Governor  of  Maryland  to  approve,  or 
whether  'tis  still  in  Baltimore's  power  to  make  and  fill  official  posts?  There 
was  some  debate  on  the  matter  here  last  evening." 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  123  ] 

"I  daresay  there  was,"  Ebenezer  said.  "Tis  my  good  fortune  I  missed 
it.  Is't  your  suggestion  Lord  Baltimore  would  willfully  o'erstep  his  authority 
and  exercise  rights  he  hath  no  claim  to?" 

"Oh,  Heav'n  forbid!"  cried  Bragg,  wide-eyed.  "  Twas  the  farthest  thing 
from  my  mind,  sir!  Oh,  'sheart!  'Twas  a  mere  civil  question,  b'm'faithl  No 
slight  intended!" 

"So  be't.  Let  us  have  done  with  questions  now,  lest  I  miss  the  Plymouth 
coach.  Will  you  show  me  some  notebooks?" 

"Indeed,  sir,  at  once!  What  sort  of  notebook  had  you  in  mind?" 

"What  sort?"  repeated  Ebenezer.  "Are  there  sorts  of  notebooks,  then?  I 
knew't  not.  No  matter— any  sort  will  serve,  I  daresay.  'Tis  but  to  take  notes 
in." 

"Long  notes,  sir,  or  short  ones?" 

"How?  What  a  question!  How  should  I  know?  Both,  I  suppose!" 

"Ah.  And  will  you  take  these  long  and  short  notes  at  home,  sir,  or  while 
traveling?" 

"Ffaith,,  what  difference  to  you?  Both,  I  should  think.  A  mere  silly  note- 
book is  all  my  craving." 

"Patience,  sir;  'tis  only  to  make  certain  I  sell  you  naught  but  fits  thy 
need.  The  man  -who  knows  what  he  needs,  they  say,  gets  what  he  wants; 
but  he  who  knows  not  his  mind  is  forever  at  sixes  and  sevens  and  blames 
the  blameless  world  fort." 

"Enough  wisdom,  I  beg  you,"  Ebenezer  said  uncomfortably.  "Sell  me  a 
notebook  fit  for  long  or  short  notes,  both  at  home  and  abroad,  and  have 
done  with't." 

"Very  well,  sir,"  Bragg  said.  "Only  I  must  know  another  wee  thing." 

"I'faith,  'tis  a  Cambridge  examination!  What  is't  now?" 

"Is't  thy  wont  to  make  these  notes  always  at  a  desk,  whether  at  home  or 
abroad,  or  do  you  jot  'em  down  as  they  strike  you,  whether  strolling,  riding, 
or  resting?  And  if  the  latter,  do  you  yet  ne'er  pen  'em  in  the  public  view, 
or  is't  public  be  damned,  ye'll  write  where't  please  you?  And  if  the  latter, 
would  you  have  'em  think  you  a  man  whose  taste  is  evidenced  by  all  he 
owns;  who  is,  you  might  say,,  in  love  with  the  world?  A  Geoffrey  Chaucer? 
A  Will  Shakespeare?  Or  would  you  rather  they  took  you  for  a  Stoical 
fellow,  that  cares  not  a  fig  for  this  vale  of  imperfections,  but  hath  his  eye 
fixed  always  on  the  Everlasting  Beauties  of  the  Spirit:  a  Plato,  I  mean,  or  a 
Don  John  Donne?  'Tis  most  necessary  I  should  know." 

Ebenezer  smote  the  counter  with  his  fist.  "Damn  you,  fellow,  thou'rt 


r  12A  ]  THE   SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

pulling  my  leg  for  fair!  Is't  some  wager  you've  made  with  yonder  gentle- 
man, to  have  me  act  the  fool  for  him?  Marry,  'twas  my  retching  hate  of 
raillers  and  hypocrites  that  drove  me  here,  to  spend  my  final  London  morn 
sequestered  among  the  implements  of  my  craft,  like  a  soldier  in  his  armory 
or  a  mariner  in  the  ship  chandler's;  but  I  find  no  simple  sanctuary  even 
here.  By  Heav'n,  I  think  not  even  Nero's  lions  were  allowed  in  the 
dungeons  where  the  martyrs  prayed  and  fortified  themselves,  but  had  to 
stay  their  hunger  till  the  wretches  were  properly  in  the  arena.  Will  you  deny 
me  that  small  solace  ere  I  take  ship  for  the  wilderness?" 

"Forbear,  sir;  do  forbear,"  Bragg  pleaded,  "and  think  no  ill  of  yonder 
gentleman,  who  is  a  perfect  stranger  to  me." 

"Very  well.  But  explain  yourself  at  once  and  sell  me  a  common  notebook 
such  as  a  poet  might  find  useful  who  is  as  much  a  Stoic  as  an  Epicurean." 

"I  crave  no  more  than  to  do  just  that,"  Bragg  declared.  "But  I  must 
know  whether  you'll  have  the  folio  size  or  the  quarto.  The  folio,  I  might 
say,  is  good  for  poets,  inasmuch  as  an  entire  poem  can  oft  be  set  on  facing 
pages,  where  you  can  see  it  whole." 

"Quite  sound,"  Ebenezer  acknowledged.  "Folio  it  is/7 

"On  the  other  hand,  the  quarto  is  more  readily  lugged  about,  particularly 
when  thou'rt  walking  or  on  horseback." 

"True,  true,"  Ebenezer  admitted. 

"In  the  same  way,  a  cardboard  binding  is  cheap  and  hath  a  simple 
forthright  air;  but  leather  is  hardier  for  traveling,  more  pleasing  to  behold, 
and  more  satisfying  to  own.  What's  more,  I  can  give  ye  unruled  sheets, 
such  as  free  the  fancy  from  mundane  restraints,  accommodate  any  size  of 
hand,  and  make  a  handsome  page  when  writ;  or  ruled  sheets,  which  save 
time,  aid  writing  in  carriages  or  aboard  ships,  and  keep  a  page  neat  as  a 
pin.  Finally,  ye  may  choose  a  thin  book,  easy  to  cany  but  soon  filled,  or  a 
fat  one,  cumbersome  to  travel  with  but  able  to  store  years  of  thought  'twixt 
single  covers.  Which  shall  be  the  Laureate's  notebook?" 

"  'Sbodikins!  I  am  wholly  fuddled!  Eight  species  of  common  notebook?" 

"Sixteen,  sir;  sixteen,  if  I  may,"  Bragg  said  proudly.  "Ye  may  have 

A  thin  plain  cardboard  folio, 

A  thin  plain  cardboard  quarto, 

A  thin  plain  leather  folio, 

A  thin  ruled  cardboard  folio, 

A  fat  plain  cardboard  folio, 

A  thin  plain  leather  quarto, 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  125  ] 

A  thin  ruled  cardboard  quarto, 

A  fat  plain  cardboard  quarto, 

A  thin  ruled  leather  folio, 

A  fat  ruled  cardboard  folio, 

A  fat  plain  leather  folio, 

A  thin  ruled  leather  quarto, 

A  fat  ruled  cardboard  quarto, 

A  fat  plain  leather  quarto, 

A  fat  ruled  leather  folio,  or 

A  fat  ruled  leather  quarto." 

"Stop!"  cried  Ebenezer,  shaking  his  head  as  though  in  pain.  "Tis  the 
Pit!" 

"I  may  say  also  I'm  expecting  some  lovely  half-moroccos  within  the  week, 
and  if  need  be  I  can  secure  finer  or  cheaper  grades  of  paper  than  what 
I  stock." 

"Have  at  thee,  Sodomite!"  Ebenezer  shouted,  drawing  his  short-sword. 
"Tis  thy  life  or  mine,  for  another  of  thy  evil  options* and  I  am  lost!" 

"Peace!  Peace!"  the  printer  squealed,  and  ducked  under  his  serving- 
counter. 

"Peace  Peace  we'll  have  do  I  reach  thee,"  Ebenezer  threatened;  "nor  no 
mere  pair  of  pieces,  either,  b'm'faith,  but  sixteen  count!" 

"Stay,  Master  Laureate,"  urged  the  short,  wigless  customer;  he  came  from 
across  the  shop,  where  he'd  been  listening  with  interest  to  the  colloquy, 
and  placed  his  hand  on  Ebenezer's  sword  arm.  "Calm  your  wrath,  ere't 
lead  ye  to  blight  your  office." 

"Eh?  Ah,  to  be  sure,"  sighed  Ebenezer,  and  sheathed  his  sword  with 
some  embarrassment.  "  'Tis  the  soldier's  task  to  fight  battles,  is't  not,  and 
the  poet's  to  sing  'em.  But  marry,  who  dares  call  himself  a  man  that  will  not 
fight  to  save  his  reason?" 

"And  who  dares  call  himself  reasonable,"  returned  the  stranger,  "that 
will  so  be  swayed  by's  passions  as  to  take  arms  against  a  feckless  shopkeeper? 
Tis  thy  quandary,  do  I  see't  aright,  that  all  these  notebooks  have  their 
separate  virtues,  yet  none  is  adequate,  inasmuch  as  your  purposes  range 
'twixt  contradictories." 

"You  have't  firmly,"  Ebenezer  admitted. 

"Then  'tis  by  no  means  this  poor  knave's  fault,  d'ye  think,  that  he  gives 
ye  options?  He's  more  to  be  praised  than  braised  for't.  Put  by  your  anger, 
for  Anger  begins  with  folly  and  ends  with  repentance;  it  makes  a  rich  man 


[  126  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

hated  and  a  poor  man  scorned,  and  so  far  from  solving  problems,  only 
multiplies  'em.  Follow  rather  the  sweet  light  of  Reason,  which  like  the 
polestar  leads  the  wise  helmsman  safe  to  port  through  the  unruly  seas  of 
passion." 

"Ah,  you  chasten  me,  friend,"  said  Ebenezer.  "Out  with  you,  Ben  Bragg, 
and  never  fear:  I'm  my  own  man  again." 

"  'Sheart,  thou'rt  a  spirited  fellow  for  a  poet!"  Bragg  exclaimed,  reappear- 
ing from  under  the  counter. 

"Forgive  me." 

"There's  a  good  fellow!"  said  the  stranger.  "Anger  glances  into  wise  men's 
breasts,  but  rests  only  in  the  bosoms  of  fools.  Heed  no  voice  but  Reason's." 

"Good  counsel,  I  grant  thee,"  Ebenezer  said.  "But  I'll  own  it  passeth 
my  understanding  how  Solomon  himself  could  reconcile  opposites  and 
make  a  plain  book  elegant  or  a  fat  book  thin.  Not  all  the  logic  of  Aquinas 
could  contrive  it!" 

"Then  look  past  him,"  said  the  stranger  with  a  smile,  "to  Aristotle  himself, 
and  where  you  find  opposite  extremes,  seek  always  the  Golden  Mean.  Thus 
Reason  dictates:  Compromise,  Mr.  Cooke;  compromise.  Adieu." 

With  that  the  fellow  left,  before  Ebenezer  could  thank  him  or  even 
secure  his  name. 

"Who  was  that  gentleman?"  he  asked  Bragg. 

"  'Twas  one  Peter  Sayer,"  Bragg  replied,  "that  just  commissioned  me  to 
print  him  some  broadsides—more  than  that  I  know  not," 

"No  native  Londoner,  I'll  wager.  What  a  wondrous  wise  fellow!" 

"And  wears  his  natural  hair!"  sighed  the  printer.  "What  think  ye  of  his 
advice?" 

"  'Tis  worthy  a  Chief  Justice,"  Ebenezer  declared,  "and  I  mean  to  carry 
it  out  at  once.  Fetch  me  a  notebook  neither  too  thick  nor  too  thin,  too  tall 
nor  too  small,  too  simple  nor  too  elegant.  Twill  be  Aristotle  from  start 
to  finish!" 

"Your  pardon,  sir,"  Bragg  protested;  "I  have  already  named  my  whole 
stock  over,  and  there's  not  a  Golden  Mean  in  the  lot.  Yet  I  think  ye  might 
purchase  a  book  and  alter  it  to  suit." 

"How,  prithee,"  Ebenezer  asked,  looking  nervously  to  the  door  through 
which  Sayer  had  made  his  exit,  "when  I  know  no  more  of  bookmaking  than 
doth  a  bookseller  of  poetry?" 

"Peace,  peace!"  urged  Bragg.  "Remember  the  voice  of  Reason." 

"So  be't,"  Ebenezer  said.  "Every  man  to  his  trade,  as  Reason  hath  it 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  12J  ] 

Here's  a  pound  for  book  and  alterations.  Commence  at  once,  nor  let  your 
eye  drift  e'en  for  an  instant  from  the  polestar  of  Reason." 

'Very  good,  sir,"  Bragg  replied,  pocketing  the  money.  "Now,  'tis  but 
reasonable,  is't  not,  that  a  long  board  may  be  sawn  short,  but  a  short  board 
may  not  be  stretched?  And  a  fat  book,  likewise,  may  be  thinned,  but  ne'er 
a  thin  book  fattened?" 

"No  Christian  man  can  say  you  nay,"  Ebenezer  agreed. 

"So,  then,"  said  Bragg,  taking  a  handsome,  fat,  unruled  leather  folio  from 
the  shelf,  "we  take  us  a  great  stout  fellow,  spread  him  open  thusly,  and 
compromise  him!"  Pressing  the  notebook  flat  open  upon  the  counter,  he 
ripped  out  several  handfuls  of  pages. 

"Whoa!  Stay!"  cried  Ebenezer. 

"Then,"  Bragg  went  on,  paying  him  no  heed,  "since  Reason  tells  us  a 
fine  coat  may  wear  shabby,  but  ne'er  a  cheap  coat  fine,  we'll  just  compromise 

this  morocco  here  and  there "  He  snatched  up  a  letter  opener  near  at 

hand  and  commenced  to  hack  and  gouge  the  leather  binding. 

"Hold,  there!  I'faith,  my  notebook!" 

"As  for  the  pages,"  Bragg  continued,  exchanging  the  letter  opener  for 
goose  quill  and  inkpot,  "ye  may  rule  'em  as't  please  ye,  with  Reason  as  the 
guide:  sidewise"— he  scratched  recklessly  across  a  half-dozen  pages— 
"lengthwise"— he  penned  hasty  verticals  on  the  same  pages—"  or  what  ye 
will!"  He  scribbled  at  random  through  the  whole  notebook, 

"'Sbody!  My  pound!" 

"Which  leaves  only  the  matter  of  size,"  Bragg  concluded:  "He  must  be 
smaller  than  a  folio,  yet  taller  than  a  quarto.  Hark  ye,  now:  methinks  the 
voice  of  Reason  orders " 

"Compromise!"  Ebenezer  shouted,  and  brought  down  his  sword  upon  the 
mutilated  notebook  with  such  a  mighty  chop  that,  had  Bragg  not  just  then 
stepped  back  to  contemplate  his  creation  he'd  surely  have  contemplated  his 
Creator.  The  covers  parted;  the  binding  let  go;  pages  flew  in  all  directions. 
"Tfort  for  your  damned  Golden  Mean!" 

"Madman!"  Bragg  cried,  and  ran  out  into  the  street.  "Oh,  dear,  help! 
Madman!" 

There  was  no  time  to  lose:  Ebenezer  sheathed  his  sword,  snatched  up 
the  first  notebook  he  spied— which  happened  to  be  lying  near  at  hand,  over 
the  cash  drawer— and  fled  to  the  rear  of  the  store,  through  the  print  shop 
(where  two  apprentices  looked  up  in  wonder  from  their  work) ,  and  out  the 
back  door. 


:  THE  LAUREATE  DEPARTS  FROM  LONDON 


THOUGH  SEVERAL  HOURS  YET  REMAINED  BEFORE  DEPARTURE  TIME,  EBENE- 

zer  went  from  Bragg  s  directly  to  the  posthouse,  ate  an  early  dinner,  and 
sipped  ale  restlessly  while  waiting  for  Bertrand  to  appear  with  his  trunk. 
Never  had  the  prospect  of  going  to  Maryland  seemed  so  pleasant:  he  longed 
to  be  off!  For  one  thing,  after  the  adventure  in  Bragg's  establishment  he 
was  more  than  ever  disgusted  with  London;  for  another,  he  rather  feared 
that  Bragg,  to  whom  he'd  mentioned  the  Plymouth  coach,  might  send  men 
after  him,  though  he  was  certain  his  pound  was  more  than  adequate  pay- 
ment for  both  notebooks.  And  there  was  another  reason:  his  heart  still  beat 
faster  when  he  recalled  his  swordplay  of  an  hour  before,  and  his  face  flushed. 

'What  a  gesture!"  he  thought  admiringly.  "'That  for  your  damned 
Golden  Mean!'  Well  said  and  well  done!  How  it  terrified  the  knave,  f  faith! 
A  good  beginning!"  He  laid  his  notebook  on  the  table:  it  was  quarto  size, 
about  an  inch  thick,  with  cardboard  covers  and  a  leather  spine.  "Tis  not 
what  Fd  have  chosen"  he  reflected  without  sorrow,  "but  'twas  manfully 
got,  and  'twill  do,  'twill  do.  Barman!"  he  called,  "Ink  and  quill,  if  you 
please!"  The  writing  materials  fetched,  he  opened  the  notebook  in  order  to 
pen  a  dedication:  to  his  surprise  he  found  already  inscribed  on  the  first  page 
B.  Bragg,  Printer  &  Stationer,  Sign  of  the  Raven,  Paternoster  Row,  London, 
1694,  and  on  the  second  and  third  and  fourth  such  entries  as  BdngZe  & 
Son,  glaziers,  for  window-glass,  13/4,  and  /no.  Eastbury,  msc  printing,  1/3/9 

"'Sblood!  Tis  Bragg's  account  book!  A  common  ledger!"  Investigating 
further  he  found  that  only  the  first  quarter  of  the  book  had  been  used:  the 
last  entry,  dated  that  same  day,  read  CoZ.  Peter  Sayer,  broadsides,  2/5/0. 
The  remaining  pages  were  untouched.  "So  be't,"  he  smiled,  and  ripped  out 
the  used  sheets. ' 'Was't  not  my  aim  to  keep  strict  account  of  my  traffic  with 
the  muse?"  Inking  his  quill,  he  wrote  across  the  first  new  page  Ebenezer 
Cooke,  Poet  &  Laureate  of  Maryland  and  then  observed  (it  being  a  ledger 
of  the  double-entry  variety)  that  his  name  fell  in  the  Debit  column  and 
his  title  in  the  Credit. 

"Nay,  'twill  never  do,"  he  decided,  "for  to  call  my  office  an  asset  to  me 
is  but  to  call  me  a  liability  to  my  office."  He  tore  out  the  sheet  and  reversed 
the  inscription.  "Yet  Poet  and  Laureate  Eben  Cooke  is  as  untrue  as  the 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  12Q  ] 

other,"  he  reflected,  "for  while  I  hope  to  be  a  credit  to  my  post,  yet  surely 
the  post  is  no  liability  to  me.  Twere  fitter  the  thing  were  done  sidewise 
down  the  credit  line,  to  signify  the  mutual  benefit  of  title  and  man."  But 
before  he  tore  out  the  second  sheet  it  occurred  to  him  that  "credit"  was 
meaningless  except  as  credit  to  somebody— and  yet  anything  he  entered  to 
receive  it  became  a  liability.  For  a  moment  he  was  frantic. 

"Stay!"  he  commanded  himself,  perspiring.  "The  fault  is  not  in  the 
nature  of  the  world,  but  in  Bragg's  categories.  I'll  merely  paste  my  commis- 
sion over  the  whole  title  page." 

He  called  for  glue,  but  when  he  searched  his  pockets  for  the  commission 
from  Lord  Baltimore,  he  found  it  not  in  any  of  them. 

"A'gad!  Tis  in  the  coat  I  wore  last  night  at  Locket's,  that  Bertrand  hath 
packed  away  for  me!" 

He  went  searching  about  the  posthouse  for  his  man,  without  success.  But 
in  the  street  outside,  where  the  carriage  was  being  made  ready,  he  was 
astonished  to  find  no  other  person  than  his  sister  Anna. 

"Marry!"  he  cried,  and  hurried  to  embrace  her.  "People  vanish  and  ap- 
pear to  me  of  late  as  in  a  Drury  Lane  comedy!  How  is  it  thou'rt  in  London?" 

"To  see  thee  off  to  Plymouth,"  Anna  said.  Her  voice  was  no  longer  girlish, 
but  had  a  hard,  flat  tone  to  it,  and  one  would  have  put  her  age  closer  to 
thirty-five  than  twenty-eight  years.  "Father  forbade  it  but  would  not  come 
himself,  and  so  I  stole  away  and  be  damned  to  him."  She  stepped  back 
and  examined  her  brother.  "Ah  faith,  thou'rt  grown  thinner,  Eben!  I've 
heard  'twere  wise  to  fatten  up  for  an  ocean  passage." 

"I  had  but  a  week  to  fatten,"  Ebenezer  reminded  her.  During  his  sojourn 
at  Paggen's  he  had  seen  Anna  not  more  than  once  a  year,  and  he  was  greatly 
moved  by  the  alteration  in  her  appearance. 

She  lowered  her  eyes,  and  he  blushed. 

"I'm  looking  for  that  great  cynical  servant  of  mine,"  he  said  gaily,  turning 
away.  "You've  not  seen  him,  I  suppose?" 

"You  mean  Bertrand?  I  sent  him  off  myself  not  five  minutes  past,  when 
he'd  got  all  your  baggage  on  the  coach." 

"Ah,  there's  a  pity.  I  had  promised  him  a  crown  fort." 

"And  I  gave  it  him,  from  Father's  money.  He'll  be  back  at  St.  Giles,  I 
think,  for  Mrs.  Twigg  hath  a  ferment  of  the  blood  and  is  not  given  long 
to  live." 

"Nay!  Dear  old  Twigg!  'Tis  a  pity  to  lose  her." 

They  stood  about  awkwardly.  Turning  his  head  to  avoid  looking  her  in 


[  130  ]  THE   SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

the  eye,  Ebenezer  caught  sight  of  the  wigless  fellow  of  the  bookstore,  Peter 
Saver,  standing  idly  by  the  corner. 

"Did  Bertrand  tell  you  aught  of  my  preferment?"  he  asked  cheerfully. 

"Aye,  he  spoke  oft.  I'm  proud."  Anna's  manner  was  distracted.  "Eben 
"  She  grasped  his  arm.  ' Was't  true,  what  that  letter  said?"  Great  con- 
cern was  evident  in  her  face. 

Ebenezer  laughed,  somewhat  nettled  at  Anna's  lack  of  interest  in  his 
laureateship.  "  'Twas  true  I'd  got  nowhere  at  Peter  Paggen's,  in  all  those 
years.  And  'twas  true  a  woman  was  in  my  chamber." 

"And  did  you  deceive  her?"  his  sister  asked  anxiously. 

"I  did,"  Ebenezer  said.  Anna  turned  away  and  caught  her  breath. 

"Stay!"  he  cried.  "  Twas  not  at  all  in  the  way  you  think.  I  deceived  her 
inasmuch  as  she  was  a  whore  that  came  to  me  to  be  employed  for  five 
guineas;  but  I  took  a  great  love  for  her  and  would  neither  lay  nor  pay  her 
on  those  terms." 

Anna  wiped  her  eyes  and  looked  at  him.  "Is't  true?" 

"Aye,"  Ebenezer  laughed.  "Haply  you'll  judge  me  not  a  man  for't,  Anna, 
but  I  swear  I  am  as  much  a  virgin  now  as  the  day  we  were  born.  What, 
thou'rt  weeping  again!" 

"But  not  for  sorrow,"  Anna  said,  embracing  him.  "Do  you  know, 
Brother,  I  had  come  to  think  since  you  went  to  Magdalene  College  we  no 
longer  knew  each  other— but  it  may  be  I  was  wrong." 

Ebenezer  was  moved  by  this  statement,  but  a  trifle  embarrassed  when 
Anna  squeezed  him  more  tightly  before  releasing  him,  Passersby,  including 
Peter  Sayer  on  the  corner,  turned  their  heads  to  look  at  them:  doubtless 
they  looked  like  parting  lovers.  Yet  he  was  ashamed  at  being  embarrassed. 
He  moved  closer  to  the  coach,  to  prevent  too  gross  a  misunderstanding, 
and  took  his  sister's  hand,  at  least  partly  to  forestall  further  embraces. 

"Do  you  ever  think  of  the  past?"  Anna  asked. 

"Aye." 

"What  wondrous  times  we  had!  Do  you  remember  how  we  used  to  talk 
for  hours  after  Mrs.  Twigg  had  turned  out  the  lamp?"  Tears  sprang  again 
to  her  eyes.  "I'faith,  I  miss  you,  Ebenl" 

Ebenezer  patted  her  hand. 

"And  I  thee,"  he  said,  sincerely  but  uncomfortably.  I  remember  one 
day  when  we  were  thirteen,  you  were  ill  in  bed  with  a  fever,  and  so 
Henry  and  I  went  alone  to  tour  Westminster  Abbey.  Twas  my  first  whole 
day  apart  from  you,  and  by  dinnertime  I  missed  you  so  sorely  I  begged 
Henry  to  take  me  home.  But  we  went  instead  to  St  James's  Park, 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  131  ] 

and  after  supper  to  Dukes  Theater  in  Lincoln's  Inn  Fields,  and  'twas  far 
past  midnight  ere  we  reached  home.  I  felt  ten  years  older  for  the  day's 
adventure  and  could  not  see  for  the  life  of  me  how  I'd  e'er  be  able  to  tell 
you  the  whole  oft.  I'd  had  my  first  meal  away  from  home,  been  to  my  first 
theater,  and  tasted  my  first  brandy.  We  talked  of  nothing  else  for  weeks 
but  that  day,  and  still  I'd  remember  trifles  I'd  forgot  to  tell  you.  'Twould 
give  me  pain  to  think  of  them,  and  at  length  I  came  to  regret  ever  having 
gone  and  told  Henry  so,  for't  seemed  to  me  you'd  ne'er  catch  up  after 
that  day." 

"I  recall  it  as  if  'twere  but  last  week,"  Anna  said.  "How  many  times 
I've  wondered  whether  you'd  forgot  it."  She  sighed.  "And  I  never  did  catch 
up!  Query  as  I  might,  there  was  no  getting  the  whole  story.  The  awful 
truth  oft  was,  I'd  not  been  there  to  see!" 

Ebenezer  interrupted  her  with  a  laugh.  "Marry,  e'en  now  I  recall  some- 
thing of  it  I  forgot  to  tell  you!  After  supper  at  some  Pall  Mall  tavern  on 
that  day,  I  waited  a  half  hour  alone  at  the  table  while  Henry  went  upstairs 

for  one  reason  or  another "  He  stopped  and  blushed  scarlet,  suddenly 

realizing,  after  fifteen  years,  what  in  all  probability  Henry  Burlingame  had 
gone  upstairs  for.  Anna,  however,  to  his  relief,  showed  no  sign  of  under- 
standing. 

"The  wine  had  gone  to  my  head,  and  everyone  looked  odd  to  me,  none 
less  than  myself.  'Twas  then  I  composed  my  first  poem,  in  my  head.  A  little 
quatrain.  Nay,  I  must  confess  'twas  no  slip  of  memory:  I  kept  it  secret, 
Heav'n  knows  why.  I  can  e'en  recite  it  now: 

Figures,  so  strange,  no  GOD  design' d 
To  be  a  Part  of  Human-kind: 
"But  wanton  Nature  .  .  . 

La,  I  forget  the  rest.  'Sheart,"  he  said,  resolving  happily  to  record  the  little 
verse  in  his  notebook  as  soon  as  he  boarded  the  carriage,  "and  since  then 
what  years  we've  spent  apart!  What  crises  and  adventures  we  each  have 
had,  that  the  other  knows  naught  of!  'Tis  a  pity  all  the  same  you  had  a  fever 
that  day!" 

Anna  shook  her  head.  "I  had  a  secret  too,  Eben,  that  Mrs.  Twigg  knew, 
and  Henry  guessed,  but  never  you  nor  Father.  'Twas  no  fever  I  was  bedded 
with,  but  my  first  monthly  troubles!  I'd  changed  from  child  to  woman  that 
morning,  and  had  the  cramp  oft  as  many  women  do." 

Ebenezer  pressed  her  hand,  uncertain  what  to  say.  It  was  time  to  board 
the  coach:  footmen  and  driver  were  attending  last-minute  details. 


[  132  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"Marry,  'twill  be  a  long  time  ere  I  see  you  again,"  he  said  "Belike 
you'll  be  a  stout  matron  with  half-a-dozen  children!*' 

"Nay,  not  I,"  Anna  said.  "  Twill  be  Mrs.  Twigg's  lot  for  me,  when  she 
dies:  an  old  maid  housekeeper/* 

Ebenezer  scoffed.  "Thou'rt  a  catch  for  the  best  of  men!  Could  I  find 
your  equal  I'd  be  neither  virgin  nor  bachelor  for  long/'  He  kissed  her  good- 
bye, forwarded  his  respects  to  his  father,  and  made  to  board  the  carriage, 

"Stay!"  Anna  said  impulsively. 

Ebenezer  hesitated,  uncertain  of  her  meaning.  Anna  slipped  from  her 
finger  a  silver  seal  ring,  well  known  to  the  poet  because  it  was  their  only 
memento  of  their  mother,  whom  they  had  never  seen;  Andrew  had  bought 
it  during  his  brief  courtship  and  had  presented  it  to  Anna  some  years  past. 
Equally  spaced  around  the  seal  were  the  letters  A  N  N  E  B,  for  Anne  Bow- 
yer,  his  fiancee,  and  in  the  center,  overlapped  and  joined  by  a  single  cross- 
bar, was  a  brace  of  beflourished  A's  signifying  the  connection  of  Anne  and 
Andrew.  The  complete  seal  looked  like  this: 


"Prithee  take  this  ring,"  Anna  entreated,  and  looked  at  it  musingly.  M  Tis 
—'tis  my  wont  to  alter  its  significance  somewhat  ...  but  no  matter,  Here, 
let  me  put  it  on  you."  She  caught  up  his  left  hand  and  slipped  the  ring  onto 
his  little  finger.  "Pledge  me .  .  ."  she  began,  but  did  not  finish. 

Ebenezer  laughed,  and  to  terminate  the  uncomfortable  situation  pledged 
that  inasmuch  as  her  share  of  Maiden  was  a  large  part  of  he?  dowry,  he 
would  make  it  flourish. 

It  was  time  to  leave.  He  kissed  her  again  and  boarded  the  carriage,  taking 
the  seat  from  which  he  could  wave  to  her.  At  the  last  minute  the  wigless 
fellow,  Peter  Sayer,  boarded  the  coach  and  took  the  opposite  scat.  A  foot- 
man closed  the  door  and  sprang  up  to  his  post— apparently  there  were  to 
be  no  other  passengers.  The  driver  whipped  up  the  hones.  Ebencxcr  waved 
to  the  forlorn  figure  of  his  twin  at  the  posthousc  door,  and  the  carriage 
pulled  away. 

"Tis  no  light  matter,  to  leave  a  woman  ye  love,"  Sayer  ofeitd.  "Is't 

thy  wife,  perhaps,  or  a  sweetheart?" 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  1J3  ] 

"Neither,"  sighed  Ebenezer.  "  Tis  my  twin  sister,  that  I  shan't  see  again 
till  Heav'n  knows  when."  He  turned  to  face  his  companion.  "Thou'rt  my 
savior  from  Ben  Bragg's,  I  believe— Mr.  Sayer?" 

Sayer's  face  showed  some  alarm.  ''Ah,  ye  know  me?" 

"Only  by  name,  from  Ben  Bragg."  He  extended  his  hand.  "I  am  Ebene- 
zer Cooke,  bound  for  Maryland/' 

Sayer  shook  hands  warily. 

"Is  Plymouth  your  home,  Mr.  Sayer?" 

The  man  searched  Ebenezer's  face.  "Do  ye  really  not  know  Colonel 
Peter  Sayer?"  he  asked. 

"Why,  no."  Ebenezer  smiled  uncertainly.  "I'm  honored  by  your  com- 
pany, sir." 

"Of  Talbot  County  in  Maryland?" 

"Maryland!  I'faith,  what  an  odd  chance!" 

"Not  so  odd,"  Sayer  said,  "since  the  Smoker's  Fleet  sails  on  the  first. 
Anyone  bound  for  Plymouth  these  days  is  likely  bound  for  the  plantations." 

"Well,  'twill  be  a  pleasant  journey.  Is  Talbot  County  near  to  Dorchester?" 

"Really,  sir,  thou'rt  twitting  me!"  Sayer  cried, 

"Nay,  I  swear't;  I  know  naught  of  Maryland.  'Tis  my  first  visit  since  the 
age  of  four." 

Sayer  still  looked  skeptical.  "My  dear  fellow,  you  and  I  are  neighbors, 
with  only  the  Great  Choptank  between  us." 

"Marry,  what  a  wondrous  small  world!  You  must  pay  me  a  call  sometime, 
sir:  I'll  be  managing  our  place  on  Cooke's  Point." 

"And  writing  a  deal  of  verse,  did  I  hear  Mr.  Bragg  aright." 

Ebenezer  blushed*  "Aye,  I  mean  to  turn  a  line  or  two  if  I  can." 

"Nay,  put  by  your  modesty,  Master  Laureatel  Bragg  told  me  of  the  honor 
Lord  Baltimore  did  ye." 

"Ah  well,  as  for  that,  'tis  likely  he  got  it  wrong.  My  commission  is  to  write 
a  panegyric  on  Maryland,  but  I'll  not  be  laureate  in  fact  till  the  day  Balti- 
more hath  the  Province  for  his  own  again." 

"Which  day/'  Sayer  said,  "you  and  your  Jacobite  friends  yearn  for,  I 
presume?" 

"Stay,  now!"  Ebenezer  said,  alarmed.  "I  am  as  loyal  as  you." 

Sayer  smiled  for  an  instant  but  said  in  a  serious  tone,  "Yet  ye  wish  King 
William  to  lose  his  province  to  a  Papist?" 

"I  am  a  poet/'  Ebenezer  declared,  almost  adding  and  a  virgin  from  habit; 
4tl  know  naught  of  Jacobites  and  Papists,  and  care  less." 


[  134]  TH*  SOT-WEED  FACTO* 

"Nor  know  ye  aught  of  Maryland  it  seems,"  Sayer  added*  "How  well  do 
ye  know  your  patron?" 

"Not  at  all,  save  that  he  is  a  great  and  generous  man.  I've  conversed 
with  him  but  once,  but  the  history  of  his  province  persuades  me  he  was 
done  a  pitiful  injustice.  Ffaith,  the  scoundrels  that  have  fleeced  and  slan- 
dered him!  I  am  confident  King  William  knows  not  the  whole  truth/* 

"But  you  do?" 

"I  don't  say  that.  Still  and  all,  a  villain  is  a  villain!  This  fellow  Clatbome, 
that  I  heard  of,  and  Ingle,  and  John  Coode^  that  led  the  latest  insurrec- 
tion  " 

"Did  he  not  strike  a  great  blow  for  the  faith,  against  the  Papists?"  Sayer 
demanded. 

Ebenezer  began  to  grow  uncomfortable,  "I  know  not  where  your 
sympathies  lie,  Colonel  Sayer;  belike  thou'rt  a  colonel  in  Coode's  militia 
and  will  clap  me  in  prison  the  day  we  step  ashore  in  Maryland " 

"Then  were't  not  the  part  of  prudence  to  watch  thy  speech?  Mind,  1 
don't  say  I  am  a  friend  of  Coode's,  but  for  all  ye  know  I  may  be," 

"Aye,  'twere  indeed  the  part  of  prudence,"  Ebeneser  said,  a  trifle  fright- 
ened. "You  may  say  'tis  not  always  prudent  to  be  just,  and  I  'tis  not  always 
just  to  be  prudent.  I  am  no  Roman  Catholic,  sirf  nor  antipapist  either,  and 
I  wonder  whether  'tis  a  matter  'twist  Protestants  and  Papists  in  Maryland 
or  'twixt  rascals  and  men  of  character,  whatever  their  faith." 

"Such  a  speech  could  get  thee  jailed  there,"  Sayer  smiled. 

"Then  'tis  proof  of  their  injustice,"  Ebenezer  declared,  not  a  little 
anxiously,  "for  Tin  not  on  either  side.  Lord  Baltimore  strikes  me  as  a  man 
of  character,  and  there's  an  end  on't  It  might  be  I'm  mistaken," 

Sayer  laughed*  "Nay,  thou'rt  not  mistaken.  I  was  but  trying  your 
loyalty." 

'To  whom,  prithee?  And  what  is  your  conclusion?** 

"Thou'rt  a  Baltimore  man/' 

"Do  I  go  to  prison  for't?" 

"That  may  be,"  Sayer  smiled,  "but  not  at  my  hands*  I  am  this  vety  mo- 
ment under  arrest  in  Maryland  for  seditious  speech  against  Coode  and  have 
been  since  last  June." 

"Nay!" 

"Aye,  along  with  Charles  Carroll,  Sir  Thomas  Lawrence,  Edward 
Randolph,  and  half  a  dozen  other  fine  fellows  that  spoke  against  the  black- 
guard. I  am  no  Papist  either,  but  Charles  Calvert  is  an  old  and  dear  friend 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  135  ] 

of  mine.  May  the  day  I  fear  to  speak  up  against  such  poltroons  be  the  last 
day  of  my  life!" 

Ebenezer  hesitated.  "How  am  I  to  know  'tis  not  now  thou'rt  trying  me, 
and  not  before?" 

"Ye  can  never  know/'  Sayer  replied,  "especially  in  Maryland,  where 
friends  may  change  their  colors  like  tree  frogs.  Why,,  do  ye  know,  the  bar- 
rister Bob  Goldsborough  of  Talbot,  my  friend  and  neighbor  for  years, 
deposed  against  me  to  Governor  Copley?  The  last  man  I'd  have  thought  a 
turncoat!" 

Ebenezer  shook  his  head.  "A  man  mil  sell  his  heart  to  save  his  neck.  The 
picture  looks  drear  enough,  f  faith!" 

"Yet  there's  this  to  say  for't,"  Sayer  said,  "that  it  makes  the  choice  a  clean 
one:  ye  must  hold  your  tongue  with  all  save  your  conscience  or  else  speak 
your  mind  and  take  the  consequences— discretion  goes  out  the  window, 
and  so  doth  compromise." 

"Is  this  the  Voice  of  Reason  speaking?"  Ebenezer  asked, 

"Nay,  'tis  the  Voice  of  Action.  Compromise  serves  well  enough  when 
neither  extreme  will  get  ye  what  ye  want:  but  there  are  things  men  must 
not  want.  What  comfort  is  a  whole  skin,  pray,  when  the  soul  is  wounded 
unto  death?  'Twas  I  wrote  Baltimore  his  first  full  account  of  Coode's 
rebellion,  and  rather  than  live  under  his  false  Associators  I  left  my  house 
and  lands  and  came  to  England." 

"How  is  it  thou'rt  returning?  Will  you  not  be  clapped  in  irons?" 

"That  may  be,"  Sayer  said.  "Howbeit,  I  think  not.  Copley's  dead  since 
September,  and  Baltimore  himself  had  a  hand  in  commissioning  Francis 
Nicholson  to  replace  him.  D'ye  know  Nicholson?" 

Ebenezer  admitted  that  he  did  not. 

"Well,  he  hath  his  faults— chiefly  a  great  temper  and  a  passion  for 
authority— but  his  ear's  been  bent  the  right  way,  and  he'll  have  small  use 
for  Coode's  sort.  Ere  he  got  this  post  he  was  with  Edmund  Andros  in  New 
England,  and  'twas  Leisler's  rebellion  in  New  York  that  ran  him  out— the 
very  model  of  Coode's  rebellion  in  Maryland.  Nay,  I  fear  no  harm  from 
Nicholson." 

"Nonetheless,  'tis  a  bold  resolve,"  Ebenezer  ventured. 

Sayer  shrugged.  "Life  is  short;  there's  time  for  naught  but  bold  resolves." 

Ebenezer  started  and  looked  sharply  at  his  companion. 

"What  is't?" 

"Nothing,"  Ebenezer  said.  "Only  a  dear  friend  of  mine  was  wont  to  tell 
me  that,  I've  lost  track  of  him  these  six  or  seven  years." 


[  136  ]  TOE  SOT-WBED  FACTOR 

"Belike  he  made  some  bold  resolve  himself/'  Sayer  suggested,  "though 
'tis  easier  to  recommend  than  do.  Did  ye  heed  his  counsel?" 

Ebenezer  nodded.  "Hence  both  my  voyage  and  my  laureateship,**  he 
said,  and  since  they  had  a  long  ride  before  them  he  told  his  traveling- 
companion  the  story  of  his  failure  at  Cambridge,  his  brief  sojourn  in  Lon- 
don with  Burlingame  and  his  long  one  with  Peter  Paggen,  the  wager  in 
the  winehouse,  and  his  audience  with  Lord  Baltimore,  The  motion  of  the 
carriage  must  have  loosened  his  tongue,  for  he  went  into  considerable  detail. 
When  he  concluded  with  his  solution  to  the  problem  of  choosing  a  note- 
book and  showed  him  Bragg's  ledger,  Sayer  laughed  so  hard  he  had  to  hold 
his  sides. 

"Oh!  Ha!"  he  cried-  "TJurf  for  your  golden  mtanl  Oh,  'sbodflcins! 
Thou'rt  a  credit  to  your  tutor,  I  swear!** 

"  Twas  my  first  act  as  Laureate/'  Ebeneser  smiled,  "I  saw  it  as  a  kind 
of  crisis/' 

"Marry,  and  managed  it  wondrous  well!  So  here  ye  sit:  virgin  and  poet! 
Think  ye  the  'twain  will  dwell  'neath  the  same  roof  and  act  quarrel  with 
each  other  day  and  night?" 

"On  the  contrary,  they  live  not  only  in  harmony  but  in  mutual 
inspiration/' 

"But  what  on  earth  hath  a  virgin  to  sing  of?  What  have  ye  in  your  ledger 
there?" 

"Naught  save  my  name/*  Ebenezer  admitted.  "I  had  minded  to  paste 
my  commission  there,  that  Baltimore  drafted,  but  it  got  packed  in  my  trunk, 
Yet  I've  two  poems  to  copy  in  it  from  memory,  when  I  can.  The  one  I 
spoke  of  already,  that  I  wrote  the  night  of  the  wager;  'tis  on  the  subject  of 
my  innocence." 

At  his  companion's  request  Ebenezer  recited  the  poem, 

"Very  good,"  Sayer  said  when  it  was  done*  "Methinks  it  puts  your  notion 
aptly  enough,  though  I'm  no  critic.  Yet  'tis  a  mystery  to  me,  what  ye'fl 
sing  of  save  your  innocence.  Prithee  recite  me  the  other  piece/* 

"Nay,  'tis  but  a  silly  quatrain  I  wrote  as  a  lad— the  first  I  ever  rhymed 
And  I've  but  three  lines  oft  in  my  memory/" 

"Ah,  a  pity.  The  Laureate's  first  song:  'twould  fetch  a  price  someday,  Til 
wager,  when  thou'rt  famous  the  world  o'er.  Might  ye  heat  me  to  the  three 
ye  have?" 

Ebenezer  hesitated,  "Thou'rt  not  baiting  me?** 

"Nay!"  Sayer  assured  him.  "  Tis  a  mere  natural  curiosity,  is't  not,  to 
wonder  how  flew  the  mighty  eagle  as  a  fledgling?  Do  we  not  admire  old 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

Plutarch's  tales  of  young  Alcibiades  flinging  himself  before  the  carter,  or 
Demosthenes  shaving  half  his  head,  or  Caesar  taunting  the  Cilician 
pirates?  And  would  ye  not  yourself  delight  in  hearing  a  childish  line  of 
Shakespeare's,  or  mighty  Homer's?" 

"I  would,  right  enough,"  Ebenezer  admitted.  "But  will  ye  not  judge  the 
man  by  the  child?  Tis  the  present  poem  alone,  methinks,  that  matters,  not 
its  origins,,  and  it  must  stand  or  fall  on's  own  merits,  apart  from  maker  and 
age." 

"No  doubt,  no  doubt,"  Sayer  said,  waving  his  hand  indifferently,  "though 
this  word  merit's  total  mystery  to  me,  What  I  spoke  of  was  interest,  and 
whether  'tis  good  or  bad  in  itself,  certain  your  Hymn  to  Innocence  is  of 
greater  interest  to  one  who  knows  the  history  of  its  author  than  to  one  who 
knows  not  a  bean  of  the  circumstances  that  gave  it  birth." 

"Your  argument  hath  its  merits,"  Ebenezer  allowed,  not  a  little  im- 
pressed to  hear  such  nice  reasoning  from  a  tobacco-planter. 

Sayer  laughed.  "A  fart  for  thy  meritl  My  argument  hath  its  interest, 
peradventure,  to  one  who  knows  the  arguer,  and  the  history  of  such  debates 
since  Plato's  time." 

"Yet  surely  the  Hymn  hath  some  certain  degree  of  merit,  and  hath  nor 
more  nor  less  whether  he  that  reads  it  be  a  Cambridge  don  or  silly  footboy— 
or  for  that  matter,  whether  'tis  read  or  not." 

"Belike  it  doth,"  Sayer  said  with  a  shrug.  "  Tis  very  like  the  schoolmen's 
question,  whether  a  falling  tree  on  a  desert  isle  makes  a  sound  or  no,  inas- 
much as  no  ear  hears  it.  I've  no  opinion  on't  myself,  though  I'll  own  the 
quarrel  hath  some  interest:  'tis  an  ancient  one,  with  many  a  mighty 
implication  to't." 

"This  interest  is  the  base  of  thy  vocabulary/'  Ebenezer  remarked,  "as 
merit  seems  to  be  of  mine." 

"It  at  least  permits  of  conversation,"  Sayer  smiled.  "Prithee,  which  gleans 
more  pleasure  from  thy  Hymn?  The  footboy  who  knows  not  Priam  from 
Good  King  Wenceslas,  or  the  don  who  calls  the  ancients  by  their  nick- 
names? The  salvage  Indian  that  ne'er  heard  tell  of  chastity,  or  the  Christian 
man  who's  learned  to  couple  innocence  with  unpopped  maidenheads?" 

"Marryl"  Ebenezer  exclaimed.  "Your  case  hath  weight,  my  friend,  but 
I  confess  it  repels  me  to  own  the  muse  sings  clearest  to  professors!  'Twas 
not  of  them  I  thought  when  I  wrote  the  piece." 

"Nay,  ye  mistake  me,"  Sayer  said.  "  'Tis  no  mere  matter  of  schooling, 
though  none's  the  worse  for  a  little  education.  Human  experience  is  what 
I  mean:  knowledge  of  the  world,  both  as  stored  in  books  and  learnt  from 


[  138  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

the  hard  text  of  life.  Your  poem's  a  spring  of  water.  Master  Laureate— 
'sheart,  for  that  matter  everything  we  meet  is  a  spring,  is't  not?  That 
the  bigger  the  cup  we  bring  to't,  the  more  we  fetch  away,  and  the  more 
springs  we  drink  from,  the  bigger  grows  our  cup.  If  1  oppose  your  notion 
of  'merit  in  itself/  'tis  that  such  thinking  robs  the  bank  of  human  experi- 
ence, wherein  I  have  a  considerable  deposit.  I  will  not  drink  with  any  man 
who'd  have  me  throw  away  my  cup.  In  short,  sir,  though  I  am  neither  poet 
nor  critic,  nor  e'en  a  common  Artium  Bttccalaureus,  but  only  a  simple  sot- 
weed  planter  that  hath  read  a  book  or  two  in's  time  and  seen  a  bit  o*  the 
wide  world,  yet  I'm  confident  your  poem  means  more  to  me  than  to  you.** 

"What!  That  are  neither  virgin  nor  poet?" 

Sayer  nodded.  "As  for  the  first,  I  have  been  one  in  my  time  and  look  on't 
now  from  the  vantage-point  of  experience,  which  ye  do  not.  For  the  second, 
'tis  but  a  different  view  ye  get  as  author.  Nor  am  I  the  dullest  of  readers:  I 
quite  appreciate  the  wordplays  in  your  first  quatiaia,  for  instance*" 

"Wordplays?  What  wordplays?" 

"Why,  chaste  Penelope,  for  one,'*  Sayer  said-  "What  better  pun  for  a 
wife  plagued  twenty  years  by  suitors?  Twas  a  clever  choice!" 

"Thank  you,"  Ebenezer  murmured, 

"And  Andromache's  bouncing  boy,"  Sayer  went  on,  "that  was  pitched 
from  the  walls  of  Ilium " 

"Nay,  'tis  grotesque!"  Ebenezer  protested.  "I  meant  no  such  thingl** 

"Not  so  grotesque,  It  hath  the  salt  of  Shakespeare," 
^  "Do  you  think  so?"  Ebenezer  xeconsidercd  the  phrase  in  his  mind. 
"Haply  it  doth  at  that  Nonetheless  you  read  more  out  than  I  put  in/* 

"  'Tis  but  to  admit/*  Sayer  said,  "I  read  mom  out  than  you  read  out, 
which  was  my  claim.  Your  poem  means  more  to  me/* 

"I'faith,  I've  not  the  means  to  refute  you!"  Ebenezer  declared.  "If 
thou'rt  a  true  sample  of  my  fellow  planters,  sir,  then  Maryland  must  be  the 
muse's  playground,  and  a  paradise  for  poets!  Thou'rt  indeed  the  very  voice 
and  breath  of  Reason,  and  I'm  honored  to  be  your  neighbor.  My  cup 
runneth  over." 

Sayer  smiled.  "Belike  it  wants  enlarging?" 

"Tis  larger  now  than  when  I  left  London,  Thou'rt  no  mean  teacher,** 

"For  fee,  then,  if  I'm  thy  tutor,  ye  may  pay  me  out  in  verse, *  Sayer 
replied.  "The  three  lines  that  occasioned  our  debate." 

"As  you  wish,"  Ebenezer  laughed,  "though  Heav'n  only  knows  what 
you'll  find  in  'em!  Twas  once  in  a  Pall  Mall  tavern,  after  my  firat  glass  of 
Malaga,  I  composed  them,  when  all  the  world  looked  queer  and  alien/"  He 
cleared  his  throat: 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"Figures,  so  strange,  no  GOD  design' d 
To  be  a  Part  of  Human-kind: 
But  wanton  Nature.  .  .  . 

In  truth,  'tis  but  two  and  a  half;  I  know  not  whither  it  went  from  there,  but 
the  message  of  the  whole  was  simply  that  we  folk  were  too  absurd  to  do 
credit  to  a  Sublime  Intelligence.  No  puns  or  wordplays,  that  I  know  of." 

"  Tis  a  passing  cynical  opinion  for  a  boy/'  Sayer  said. 

"Twas  just  the  way  I  saw  things  in  my  cups.  Marry,  that  last  line 
teases  my  memory!" 

Sayer  stroked  his  beard  and  squinted  out  the  window.  A  dusty  country 
lad  of  twelve  or  thirteen  years,  wandering  idly  down  the  road,  stepped  aside 
and  waved  at  them  as  they  passed. 

"Figures,  so  strange,  no  GOD  designed 
To  be  a  Part  of  Human-kind;' 

Sayer  recited,  and  turned  to  smile  mischievously  at  Ebenezer: 

"Butm 
Mould 

Do  I  have't  right,  Eben?" 


"But  wanton  Nature,  void  of  Rest, 
Moulded  the  brittle  Clay  in  Jest. 


3:    THE  LAUREATE  LEARNS  THE  TRUE  IDENTITY  OF 
COLONEL  PETER  SAYER 


"NAY,  I'GOD!"  EBENEZER  BLINKED,  AND  SHOOK  HIS  HEAD,  AND  CRANED 
forward  as  if  seeking  a  message  on  his  companion's  face. 
"Yes,  'tis  I.  Shame  on  you,  that  you  failed  to  see't,  or  Anna  either." 
"But  'sheart,  Henry,  thou'rt  so  altered  I've  still  to  see't!  Wigless, 

bearded " 

"A  man  changes  in  seven  years,"  Burlingame  smiled.  "I'm  forty  now, 
Eben." 

Ebenezer  laughed  distractedly  and  kept' shaking  his  head.  "E'en  the  eyes!" 
he  said.  "And  thy  way  of  speaking!  Thy  voice  itself  is  different,  and  thy 
manner!  Are  you  Sayer  feigning  Burlingame,  or  Burlingame  disguised  as 
Sayer?" 

"  'Tis  no  disguise,  as  any  that  know  the  real  Sayer  can  testify." 
"Yet  I  knew  the  real  Henry  Burlingame,"  Ebenezer  said,  "and  were't 


[  140]  THE  SOT-WEED  PACTOfc 

not  that  you  knew  my  quatrain  I  could  not  say  thou'rt  he!  I  told  the  poem 
to  none  save  Henry,  and  that  but  once,  fifteen  years  past.0 

"As  I  was  fetching  thee  home  from  St.  James's  Park,"  Henry  added 
"Twas  past  midnight,  and  the  Malaga  had  oiled  thy  tongue.  Yet  you  were 
asleep  ere  we  reached  St  Giles,  with  your  head  on  my  shoulder,  were  you 
not?" 

"Marry,  so  I  was!  I  had  forgot."  Ebenezer  reached  across  the  carriage  and 
gripped  Burlingame's  ami.  "Ah  God,  to  think  I've  found  you.  Henry!  I'd 
given  you  up  for  lost!" 

"Then  you  do  believe  'tis  I?" 

"Forgive  me  my  doubt;  I've  ne'er  known  a  man  to  change  so,  nor  had  ! 
thought  it  possible/' 

Burlingame  raised  a  tutorial  finger.  'The  world  can  alter  a  man  entirely, 
Eben,  or  he  can  alter  himself,  down  to  his  very  essence.  Did  you  not  by 
your  own  testimony  resolve,  not  that  you  wti*,  but  that  you'd  be  virgin  and 
poet  from  that  moment  hence?  Nay,  a  man  must  alter  willy-nilly  in's  Sight 
to  the  grave,  he  is  a  river  running  seawards,  that  is  ne'er  the  same  from 
hour  to  hour.  What  is  there  in  the  Maryland  Laureate  of  the  boy  I  fetched 
from  Magdalene  College?" 

"The  less  the  better!"  Ebenezer  replied.  "Yet  I  am  still  Eben  Cooke, 
though  haply  not  the  same  Eben  Cooke,  as  the  Thames  is  Thames  however 
swift  she  flows/' 

"Is't  not  the  name  alone  remains?  And  was't  Tfatmt*  from  the  day  of 
creation?" 

"Many,  Henry,  you  were  ever  one  for  posing  riddles!  Is't  the  form,  then, 
makes  the  man,  as  the  banks  make  the  river,  whate'er  the  name  and  con- 
tent? Nay,  I  see  already  the  objection,  that  form  is  not  eternal.  The  man 
grows  stout  or  hunchbacked  with  the  years,  and  running  water  cub  and 
shapes  the  banks." 

Burlingpme  nodded.  "  Tis  but  a  change  too  slow  for  men  to  mark,  save 
in  retrospect  The  crabbed  old  man  recalls  his  spring,  and  records  tell- 
er rocks  to  him  who  knows  their  language— where  the  river  tan  of  old, 
that  now  runs  such-a-way,  'Tis  but  a  grossness  of  perception,  is't  not, 
that  lets  us  speak  of  Thames  and  Tigris,  or  even  Franc*  and  Engfand, 
but  especially  me  and  thee,  as  though  what  went  by  those  names  or  others 
in  time  past  hath  some  connection  with  the  present  object?  I'faith,  for 
that  matter  how  is't  we  speak  of  objects  if  not  that  our  coarse  vision  fails 
to  note  their  change?  The  world's  indeed  a  flux,  as  Heraclitus  declared; 
the  very  universe  is  naught  but  change  and  motion." 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  I  141  J 

Ebenezer  had  attended  this  discourse  with  a  troubled  air,  but  now  he 
brightened.  "Have  you  not  in  staring  o'er  the  Precipice  missed  the  Path?" 
he  asked. 

"I  do  not  grasp  your  figure." 

"How  is't  you  convinced  me  thou'rt  Henry  Burlingame,  when  name  and 
form  alike  were  changed?  How  is't  we  know  of  changes  too  nice  for  our 
eyes  to  see?"  He  laughed,  pleased  at  his  acuity.  "Nay,  this  very  flux  and 
change  you  make  so  much  of:  how  can  we  speak  of  it  at  all,  be  it  ne'er  so 
swift  or  slow,  were't  not  that  we  remember  how  things  were  before?  Thy 
memory  served  as  thy  credentials,  did  it  not?  Tis  the  house  of  Identity, 
the  Soul's  dwelling  place!  Thy  memory,  my  memory,  the  memory  of  the 
race:  'tis  the  constant  from  which  we  measure  change;  the  sun.  Without  it, 
all  were  Chaos  right  enough," 

"In  sum,  then,  thou'rt  thy  memory?" 

"Aye,"  Ebenezer  agreed.  "Or  better,  I  know  not  what  I  am,  but  I  know 
that  I  am,  and  have  been,  because  of  memory.  Tis  the  thread  that  runs 
through  all  the  beads  to  make  a  necklace;  or  like  Ariadne's  thread,  that 
she  gave  to  thankless  Theseus,  it  marks  my  path  through  the  labyrinth  of 
Life,  connects  me  with  my  starting  place." 

Burlingame  smiled,  and  Ebenezer  observed  that  his  teeth,  which  had 
used  to  be  white,  were  yellow  and  carious— at  least  two  were  missing  alto- 
gether. 

"You  make  a  great  thing  of  this  memory,  Eben." 

"I'll  own  I'd  not  reflected  ere  now  on  its  importance.  Tis  food  for  a 
sonnet,  or  two,  don't  you  think?" 

Burlingame  only  shrugged. 

"Come,  Henry;  sure  thou'rt  not  piqued  that  I  have  skirted  thy  pit!" 

"Would  God  you  had/'  Burlingame  said.  "But  I  fear  me  thou'rt  seduced 
by  metaphors,  as  was  Descartes  of  old." 

"How  is  that,  pray?  Can  you  refute  me?" 

"What  more  refutation  need  I  make  of  this  god  Memory9  than  that 
thou'rt  forgetting  something?" 

"What—"  Ebenezer  stopped  and  blushed  as  he  realized  the  implication 
of  what  his  friend  had  said. 

"You  did  not  recall  sleeping  on  my  shoulder  on  the  way  home  from 
Pall  Mall/'  Burlingame  reminded  him.  "This  demonstrates  the  first  weak- 
ness of  your  soul-saving  thread,  which  is,  that  it  hath  breaks  in  it.  There 
are  three  others/' 

"Ah,  many/'  Ebenezer  sighed.  "If  that  is  so,  I  fear  for  my  argument." 


[  142  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"You  said  'twas  Malaga  we  drank  that  night." 

"Aye,  I've  a  clear  memory  oft" 

"And  I  that  'twas  Madeira." 

Ebenezer  laughed,  "As  for  that,  I'd  trust  my  memory  over  yours,  inas- 
much as  'twas  my  first  wine,  and  I'd  not  likely  forget  the  name  oft" 

"True  enough/'  Burlingame  agreed,  "if  you  got  it  aright  in  the  first  place. 
But  I  too  marked  it  well  as  your  first  glass  and  well  knew  Malaga  from 
Madeira,  whereas  to  you  the  names  were  new  and  meaningless*  and  thus 
lightly  confused." 

"That  may  be,  but  I  am  certain  'twas  Malaga  nonetheless." 

"No  matter,"  Burlingame  declared.  "The  fact  of  the  matter  is,  where 
memories  disagree  there's  oft  no  means  to  settle  the  dispute,  and  that's 
the  second  weakness.  The  third  is,  that  in  large  measure  we  recall  whatever 
we  wish,  and  forget  the  rest.  'Twas  not  until  you  summoned  up  this  quat- 
rain, for  example,  that  I  recalled  having  slipped  upstairs  to  a  whore  the 
while  you  were  composing  it.  My  shame  at  leaving  you  thus  alone,  for  one 
thing,  forced  it  soon  out  of  mind." 

"Ffaith,  my  polestar  leads  me  on  the  rocks!"  Ebenesser  lamented.  "What 
is  the  fourth  objection  to't?" 

"That  e'en  those  things  it  holds,  it  tends  to  color,"  Burlingame  replied, 
Tis  as  if  Theseus  at  every  turn  rolled  up  the  thread  and  laid  it  out  again 
in  a  prettier  pattern," 

"I  fear  me  thy  objections  are  fatal,"  Ebenezer  said.  'They  are  like  the 
four  black  crows  that  ate  up  Gretel's  peas,  wherewith  she'd  marked  her 
trail  into  the  forest." 

"Nay,  these  are  but  weaknesses,  not  mortal  wounds,"  said  Burlingame. 
"They  don't  obliterate  the  path  but  only  obfuscate  it,  so  that  hy  as  we 
might  we  never  can  be  certain  of  t"  He  smiled*  "Howbeit,  there  is  yet  a 
fifth,  that  by's  own  self  could  do  the  job-" 

"  'Slife,  you'd  as  well  uncage  the  rascal  and  let  us  see  him  plainly." 

"My  memory  served  as  my  credentials,  as  you  told  me,"  Burlingame  said. 
"Blurred,  imperfect  as  it  is  from  careless  use,  and  thine  as  well  the  twain 
agreed  on  points  enough  to  satisfy  you  I  am  Burlingame,  though  1  could 
not  prove  it  any  other  way.  But  suppose  the  thread  gets  lost  completely, 
as't  sometimes  doth.  Suppose  I'd  had  no  tecolleetion  of  tny  past  at  all?" 

"Then  you'd  have  been  Colonel  Sayer  for  all  of  me,"  Ebenezer  replied. 
"Or  if  haply  you'd  declared  yourself  my  Henry,  but  knew  no  more,  I'd 
ne'er  have  credited  your  tale.  But  'tis  a  rare  occurrence,  is't  not,  this  total 
loss  of  memory,  and  rarer  yet  where  no  other  pjoof  exists  of  one's  identity?" 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  143  ] 

"No  doubt  But  suppose  again  I  looked  like  the  man  who  fetched  you  to 
London,  and  spoke  and  dressed  like  him,  and  e'en  was  called  Burlingame 
by  Trent  and  Merriweather,  and  fat  Ben  Oliver.  Moreover,  suppose  I  had 
before  witnesses  signed  the  name  as  Burlingame  was  wont  to  sign  it. 
Then  suppose  one  day  I  swore^I  was  not  Burlingame  at  all,  nor  knew  aught 
of  his  whereabouts,  but  only  a  clever  actor  who  had  got  the  knack  of 
aping  signatures,  and  had  passed  myself  as  Heniy  for  a  lark." 

'Thy  suppositions  dizzy  me!'*  Ebenezer  cried. 

"However  strong  your  convictions,"  Burlingame  went  on,  "you'd  ne'er 
have  proof  that  I  was  he." 

"I  must  own  that's  true,  though  it  pains  me." 

"Now  another  case " 

"Keep  thy  case,  I  beg  you!"  Ebenezer  said.  "I  am  cased  from  head  to 
toe  already." 

"Nay,  'tis  to  the  point.  Suppose  today  I'd  claimed  to  be  Burlingame, 
for  all  my  alteration,  and  composed  a  line  to  fit  your  quatrain— nay,  a 
whole  life  story— which  did  not  match  your  own  recollection;  and  when 
you  questioned  it,  suppose  I'd  challenged  your  own  identity,  and  made 
you  out  to  be  the  clever  impostor.  At  best  you'd  have  no  proof,  would 
you  now?" 

"I  grant  I  would  not,"  Ebenezer  admitted.  "Save  my  own  certainty. 
But  it  strikes  me  the  burden  of  proof  would  rest  with  you,  not  me." 

"In  that  case,  yes.  But  I  said  at  best.  If  I  had  learned  aught  of  your 
past,  however,  the  discrepancies  could  be  charged  to  your  own  poor  posing, 
and  if  further  I  produced  someone  very  like  you  in  appearance,  'tis  very 
possible  the  burden  of  proof  would  be  on  you.  And  if  I  brought  a  few  of 
your  friends  in  on  the  game,  or  even  old  Andrew  and  your  sister,  to  dis- 
claim you,  I'll  wager  even  you  would  doubt  your  authenticity." 

"Mercy,  mercy!"  Ebenezer  cried.  "No  more  of  these  tenuous  hypotheses, 
lest  I  lose  my  wits!  I  am  satisfied  thou'rt  Henry;  I  swear  to  thee  I  am 
Ebenezer,  and  there's  an  end  on't!  Such  casuistical  speculations  lead  only 
to  the  Pit." 

"True  enough,"  Burlingame  said  good-humoredly.  "I  wished  only  to  es- 
tablish that  all  assertions  of  thee  and  me,  e'en  to  oneself,  are  acts  of  faith, 
impossible  to  verify." 

"I  grant  it;  I  grant  it.  Tis  established  like  the "  He  waved  his  hand 

uncertainly.  "Marry,  your  discourse  hath  robbed  me  of  similes:  I  know  of 
naught  immutable  and  sure!" 

"  Tis  the  first  step  on  the  road  to  Heaven,"  Burlingame  smiled. 


t  144  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"That  may  be,"  Ebenezer  said,  "or  haply  'tis  the  road  to  Hell" 

Burlingame  cocked  his  eyebrows.  "  Tis  the  same  road,  or  good  Dante 
is  a  liar.  Thou'rt  quite  content  that  I  am  Burlingame?" 

"Quite,  I  swear't!" 

"And  thou'rt  Ebenezer?" 

"I  never  doubted  it;  and  still  thy  pupil,1  as  this  carriage  ride  hath 
shown." 

"Good.  Another  time  I'll  ask  you  what  me  and  thee  refer  to,  but  not 


now. 


"No,  ffaith,  not  now,  for  I've  a  thousand  things  to  ask  of  you!** 
"And  I  to  tell,"  Burlingame  said.  "But  so  fantastic  a  tale  it  is»  my  first 
concern  is  for  thy  credulity,  and  thus  I  deemed  necessary  all  this  Sophistical 
discourse," 

Not  long  afterwards  the  carriage  stopped  at  Aldeishot,  for  it  was  well 
past  suppertime,  and  the  travelers  had  not  eaten.  Burlingame,  therefore^ 
as  was  his  habit,  postponed  all  further  conversation  on  the  subject  while 
he  and  Ebenezer  dined  on  cold  capon  and  potatoes.  Afterwards,  having 
been  informed  by  their  driver  that  there  would  be  a  two-hour  wait  for  the 
horses  and  driver  which  would  take  them  on  to  Salisbury*  Exeter,  and  Plym- 
outh, they  took  seats  before  the  fire*  at  Burlingame^  suggestion,  with  their 
pipes  and  a  quart  of  Bristol  sherry*  It  had  grown  dark  outside;  a  light  rain 
began  to  fall.  Ebenezer  waited  impatiently  for  his  friend  to  begin,  but 
Burlingame,  jvhen  his  pipe  was  lighted  and  his  glass  filled,  sighed  a  com- 
fortable sigh  and  asked  merely,  "How  fares  your  father  these  days,  Ebea?" 


4:    THE    LAUREATE    HEARS    THE  TALE    OF 
BURLINGAME'S    LATE    ADVENTURES 


"FATHER  BE  DAMNED!"  EBENEZER  CRIED.  *i  KNOW  NOT  WHETHER  HE 
lives  or  dies,  nor  greatly  care  till  I've  heard  your  story!" 

"Yet  you  know  who  he  is,  alive  or  dead,  do  you  not?  And  ia  that  respect, 
if  not  some  others,  who  you  are/' 

'Tray  let  us  dismiss  old  Andrew  for  the  nonce,"  Ebeneser  pleaded,  "as 
he  hath  dismissed  me.  Where  have  you  been,  and  what  done  and  seen? 
Wherefore  the  name  Peter  Sayer,  and  your  wondrous  alteatioas?  Com- 
mence the  tale,  and  a  fig  for  old  Andrew!" 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  145  ] 

"How  dismiss  him?"  Burlingame  asked.  "'Twas  he  commenced  my 
story,  what  time  he  dismissed  me." 

"What?  Is't  that  nonsense  over  Anna  you  refer  to?  How  doth  it  bear 
upon  your  tale?" 

"What  towering  wrath!"  Burlingame  said.  "What  murtherous  alarm! 
I'God,  the  hate  he  bore  me— I  am  awed  by't  even  yetl" 

"I've  ne'er  excused  him  for  it,"  Ebenezer  said  shortly. 

"Your  privilege,  as  his  son.  But  I,  Eben,  I  excused  him  on  the  instant; 
forgave  him— nay,  e'en  admired  him  fort.  Had  he  made  to  slay  me— ah, 
well,  but  no  matter," 

Ebenezer  shook  his  head.  "  'Tis  past  my  understanding.  But  say,  must 
I  give  up  hope  of  hearing  your  tale?" 

"Thou'rt  hearing  it,"  Burlingame  declared.  "Tis  the  pier  whereon  the 
entire  history  rests;  the  lute-work  that  ushers  in  the  song." 

"So  be't.  But  I  fear  me  'twill  be  a  tadpole  of  a  history,  whose  head  is 
greater  than  his  body.  You  forgave  him,  then?" 

"More,  I  loved  him  for't,  and  scurried  off  in  shame." 

"Yet  'twas  a  false  and  vicious  charge  he  charged  you!" 

Burlingame  shrugged.  "As  for  that,  'twas  not  his  justice  awed  me,  but 
his  great  concern  for  his  child." 

"A  marvelous  concern  he  bears  us,  right  enough,"  Ebenezer  said.  "He 
will  wreck  us  with  his  concern!  Suppose  he'd  birched  her  bloody,  as  you 
told  me  once  he  threatened:  would  you  not  adore  and  worship  such  con- 
cern?" 

"I  would  kill  him  for't,"  Burlingame  replied,  "but  love  him  none  the  less." 

"Marry,  thou'rt  come  a  wondrous  way  from  London,  where  I  left  you! 
Why  did  you  not  applaud  my  resolution  to  go  home  with  Anna,  seeing 
'twas  pure  filial  solicitude  that  prompted  it?" 

"You  mistake  me,"  Burlingame  said.  "I'd  oppose  it  still,  and  Anna's 
bending  to  his  every  humor.  Were  I  his  son  I'd  be  disowned  ere  now  for 
flying  in  the  face  of  his  concern;  but  what  a  priceless  prize  it  is,  Eben! 
What  a  wealthy  man  I'd  be,  to  throw  away  such  treasure!  The  fellow 
repines  in  bed  for  grief  at  losing  you;  he  dictates  the  course  of  your  life 
to  make  you  worthy  of  your  line!  Who  grieves  for  me,  prithee,  or  cares 
a  fig  be  I  fop  or  philosopher?  Who  sets  me  goals  to  turn  my  back  on,  or 
values  to  thumb  my  nose  at?  In  fine,  sir,  what  business  have  I  in  the 
world,  what  place  to  flee  from,  what  credentials  to  despise?  Had  I  a  home 
I'd  likely  leave  it;  a  family  alive  or  dead  I'd  likely  scorn  it,  and  wander  a 
stranger  in  alien  towns.  But  what  a  burden  and  despair  to  be  a  stranger 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

to  the  world  at  large,  and  have  no  link  with  history!  Tis  as  if  I'd  sprung 
de  novo  like  a  maggot  out  of  meat,  or  dropped  from  the  sky.  Had  I  the 
tongue  of  angels  I  ne'er  could  tell  you  what  a  loneliness  it  is!" 

"I  cannot  fathom  it,"  Ebenezer  declared.  "Is  this  the  man  that  stood  in 
Thames  Street  praising  Heav'n  he  knew  naught  of  his  forebears?" 

"  Twas  a  desperate  speech"— Burlingame  smiled--"like  a  pauper's  dia- 
tribe on  the  sinfulness  of  wealth.  When  the  twain  of  you  had  gone  I  felt 
my  loneliness  as  ne'er  before,  and  thought  long  of  Captain  Salmon  and 
gentle  Melissa  that  raised  me.  Do  you  recall  that  day  in  Cambridge  when 
you  asked  me  how  I  came  to  be  called  Henry  Burlingame  the  Third?" 

"Aye,  and  you  replied  'twas  the  name  you'd  bome  from  birth." 

"I  spent  some  hours  grousing  in  my  chamber,"  Burlingame  said,  "and 
at  length  I  came  to  see  this  pompous  name  of  mine  as  the  most  precious 
thing  I  owned.  Who  bestowed  it  on  me?  Wherefore  Burlingame  Third,  and 
not  just  Burlingame?" 

"'Sheart,  I  see  your  meaning!"  Ebenezer  said.  "Tis  your  name  that 
links  you  with  your  forebears;  thou'rt  not  wholly  ex  nth&o  after  ail!  Tis 
a  kind  of  clue  to  the  riddle!" 

Burlingame  nodded.  "And  did  I  not  profess  to  be  a  scholar?"  He  refilled 
his  glass  with  Bristol  sherry.  "Then  and  there  I  made  myself  a  vow,"  he 
said,  "to  learn  the  name  and  nature  of  my  father,  the  circumstances  of 
my  birth,  and  haply  the  place  and  manner  of  his  death;  nor  would  I  value 
any  business  higher,  but  ransack  the  very  planet  in  my  quest  till  I  had 
found  my  answer  or  died  a-searching.  And  search  I  have— i'fauth!— these 
seven  years.  Tis  the  one  business  of  my  life/' 

''Then  marry,  I  must  hear  the  tale  oft,  that  I've  waited  for  too  long 
already.  Drink  off  your  sherry  and  commence^  nor  will  I  stand  for  inter- 
ruption till  the  tale  be  done." 

"As  you  wish/'  Burlingame  said.  He  drank  the  wine  and  filled  his  pipe 
besides,  and  told  the  following  story: 

"How  should  a  man  discover  the  history  of  his  parentage  when  he  knows 
not  whence  he  came  or  how,  or  even  whether  the  name  he  bears  hath 
any  authenticity?  For  think  not  I  was  blind  to't,  Eben,  that  my  one  hope 
might  be  a  false  one;  what  evidence  had  I  'twas  not  some  jest  or  happen- 
stance, this  name  of  mine,  or  perchance  some  other  guardian's,  that  nursed 
me  up  from  infancy  till  Captain  Salmon  chanced  along?  It  wants  but  pluck 
to  vow  to  build  a  bridge,  yet  pluck  will  never  build  it  I  cast  about  me  for 
a  first  step,  and  betook  myself  at  last  to  Bristol,  where  I  thougjhtt  perchance 
to  find  some  that  knew  at  least  my  Captain  and  recalled  his  orphan  wand 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  147  ] 

—and  privily,  111  own,  I  prayed  to  meet  some  old  and  trusted  friend  of  his, 
or  kin,  that  might  know  the  full  story  of  my  origin.  Twas  not  unthinkable 
he  might  have  told  the  tale,  I  reasoned,  if  not  broadcast  then  at  least  to 
one  or  two,  unless  there  was  some  mighty  sin  about  it." 

Ebenezer  frowned.  "Such  as  what?  The  man  you've  pictured  me  ne'er 
could  stoop  to  kidnaping." 

Burlingame  pursed  his  lips  and  raised  and  let  fall  his  hands.  "He  had  no 
children,  to  my  knowledge,  and  the  yen  for  sons  can  drive  a  man  and 
woman  far.  Moreover,  'twould  be  no  great  matter  to  achieve:  Many's  the 
anchor  that's  dropped  at  dusk  and  weighed  ere  the  sun  comes  up.  Yet 
'twas  not  kidnaping  I  mainly  thought  of,  though  I  would  not  rule  it  out 
— more  likely,  if  he  came  by  me  improperly,  'twas  that  he'd  got  me  on  some 
mistress  in  a  port  of  call." 

"Nay,"  said  Ebenezer.  "I  have  indeed  read  that  the  sailor  is  a  great 
philanderer,  even  at  times  a  bigamist,  by  reason  of  his  occupation,  but 
Captain  Salmon,  as  I  picture  him,  had  neither  the  youth  nor  the  temper  for 
such  folly,  the  less  so  for  that  he  was  no  common  sailor,  but  master  of  a 
vessel.  Twere  as  unlike  such  a  man  to  saddle  himself  with  a  bastard  as 
'twould  be  for  Solomon  to  prattle  nonsense  or  a  Jew  to  strike  fair  bargains." 

Burlingame  smiled.  "Which  is  but  to  say,  'tis  not  out  of  the  question. 
Follow  Horace  if  you  will  when  making  verse— /fefez'Gs  Ino,  perftdus  Ixion, 
and  the  rest— but  think  not  actual  folk  are  e'er  so  simple.  Many's  the  Jew 
hath  lost  his  shirt,  and  saint  that  hath  in  private  leaped  his  houseboy.  A 
covetous  man  may  be  generous  on  occasion,  and  Even  an  emmet  may  seek 
revenge.  Again,  though  'twere  unlike  Captain  Salmon  to  sow  wild  oats, 
'twere  not  at  all  unlike  him,  if  his  own  plot  would  not  bear,  to  seek  a-pur- 
pose  a  field  more  fruitful.  Melissa  may  even  have  pressed  him  to." 

"A  wife  incite  her  husband  to  be  unfaithful?" 

"'Twere  no  breach  of  faith,  methinks,  in  such  a  case.  Howbeit,  no 
matter:  in  the  first  place  I  thought  it  most  likely  he  came  by  me  in  no 
such  sinister  fashion,  but  simply  took  him  in  an  orphan  babe  as  any  man 
might  who  hath  a  Christian  heart;  in  the  second,  I  cared  not  a  straw  for 
the  manner  of  my  getting  so  I  could  but  discover  it  and  my  getter." 

"And  did  you?" 

Burlingame  shook  his  head.  "I  found  three  or  four  old  people  that  had 
known  Salmon  and  remembered  his  ungrateful  charge:  one  told  me,  when 
I  revealed  my  name^  'twas  grief  at  my  loss  killed  the  Captain,  and  grief 
o'er  his  killed  Melissa.  I  yearn  to  credit  that  story,  for  fear  my  conscience 
might  accuse  me  else  of  fleeing  such  an  awful  responsibility;  yet  there  is 


[  148  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

a  temper  wont  to  twist  the  past  into  a  theater-piece,  mistake  the  reasonable 
for  the  historical,  and  sit  like  Rhadamanthus  in  everlasting  judgment.  This 
man,  I  tell  you  reluctantly,  was  of  that  temper.  In  any  case  none  knew 
aught  of  my  origin  save  that  Captain  Salmon  had  fetched  me  home  from 
somewhere,  on  his  vessel.  I  asked  then,  who  was  the  Captain's  closet  friend, 
and  who  Melissa's?  And  each  of  the  men  among  them  claimed  to  be  the 
former,  and  each  of  the  women  the  latter.  Finally  I  asked  whether  any 
remembered  who  was  the  mate  on  Salmon's  ship  in  those  days;  but  Bristol 
is  a  busy  port,  where  men  change  ships  from  voyage  to  voyage,  and  'tis 
unlikely  they'd  have  known  were't  but  one  year  before  instead  of  thirty. 
Yet  as  often  happens,  in  asking  someone  else,  I  hit  on  the  answer  myself, 
or  if  not  the  answer  at  least  a  fresh  hope:  a  man  called  Richard  Hill  had 
been  first  mate  on  all  five  voyages  I  had  made  with  Captain  Salmon,  and 
'twas  my  impression,  more  from  their  manner  with  each  other  than  from 
any  plain  statement,  that  he  and  the  Captain  were  shipmates  of  some 
years'  standing.  'Twas  not  impossible  he'd  been  mate  on  that  voyage  ten 
years  before,  though  'twas  a  long  chance;  and  if  indeed  he'd  been,  why, 
'twas  certain  he'd  know  more  than  I  about  the  matter,  for  'tis  hard  to  keep 
such  business  from  a  first  mate  under  any  conditions,  and  perhaps  unwise  if 
he's  a  trusted  friend  to  boot.  Of  course,  for  aught  I  knew,  this  Hill  might 
be  long  dead,  or  finding  him  as  hard  a  matter  as  finding  my  father " 

"I  grant  you,  I  grant  you!"  Ebenezer  broke  in.  "Prithee  trust  me  to 
appreciate  your  obstacles  without  enumeration,  save  such  as  advance  the 
story,  and  tell  me  quickly  whether  you  overcame  them.  Did  you  find  this 
Hill  fellow?  And  had  he  aught  to  tell  you?" 

"You  must  attend  the  haw  oft/'  Burlingame  said;  "else  thou'rt  as  much 
a  Boeotian  as  he  that  reads  the  Iliad  no  farther  than  the  invocation,  where 
the  end  oft  all  is  plainly  told.  As't  happened,  none  of  my  informants  re- 
called for  certain  this  Richard  Hill  I  spoke  of,  but  two  of  them,  who  still 
were  wont  to  stroll  about  the  wharves,  declared  there  was  a  Richard  Hill 
in  the  tobacco  fleet.  Yet,  though  he  sometimes  called  at  Bristol,  they  told 
me  he  was  no  Bristolman,  nor  even  an  Englishman,  but  either  a  Marylander 
or  a  Virginian;  nor  was  he  a  mate,  but  captain  of  his  own  vessel. 

"This  I  took  as  good  news  rather  than  bad.  When  I  had  satisfied  myself 
that  neither  Captain  Hill  nor  farther  news  of  him  was  to  be  found  in 
Bristol  at  that  time,  I  hastened  back  to  London," 

"Not  to  the  plantations?"  Ebenezer  asked,  feigning  disappointment 
"Tis  unlike  you,  Henry!" 

"Nay,  I  was  ready  enough  to  sail  for  America,"  Burlingame  replied,  *1>ut: 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  149  ] 

'Tzs  -wiser  to  ask  at  the  carriage-house  than  to  chase  off  down  the  road. 
London  is  the  very  liver  and  lights  of  the  sot-weed  trade;  it  took  but  half 
a  day  there  to  learn  that  Captain  Hill  was  in  fact  a  Marylander,  from 
Anne  Arundel  County,  and  master  of  the  ship  Hope,  which  lay  at  that 
very  moment  in  the  Thames  with  other  'vessels  of  the  fleet,  discharging 
her  cargo.  I  fairly  ran  down  to  the  wharf  where  she  lay  and  with  some 
difficulty  (for  I  had  no  money)  contrived  an  interview  with  Captain 
Hill.  But  I  had  no  need  to  ask  my  great  question,  for  immediately 
upon  hearing  my  name  he  enquired  whether  I  was  Avery  Salmon's  boy, 
that  had  jumped  ship  in  Liverpool.  I  declared  I  was,  and  when  we  had 
done  shaking  our  heads  at  my  youthful  folly  and  singing  the  praises  of 
Captain  Salmon  (who,  however,  he  told  me  had  died  of  tumors  and  not 
grief),  told  him  the  purpose  of  my  visit  and  besought  him  to  give  me  any 
information  he  migjht  have  on  that  head. 

"  'Why/  he  declared,  'I  was  not  Avery's  mate  in  those  days,  Henry.  I 
know  what  there  is  to  know  oft,  and  no  more/ 

"  'And  prithee  what  is  that?' 

"  'Naught  but  what  ye  know  already/  said  he:  'that  ye  was  fished  like 
a  jimmy-crab  from  the  waves  of  the  Chesapeake/  " 

"Stay!"  Ebenezer  cried.  "I've  ne'er  heard  you  speak  oft,  Henry!" 

"  'Twas  as  new  to  me  then  as  to  you  now/'  Burlingame  said.  "I  expressed 
your  surprise  tenfold  and  assaulted  Captain  Hill  with  questions.  When  at 
length  I  convinced  him  I  was  a  perfect  stranger  to  the  matter,,  he  explained 
'twas  in  the  early  part  of  1654  or  *55>  *°  the  best  of  his  memory,  during 
a  ran  up  the  Chesapeake  from  Piscataway  to  Kent  Island,  Captain  Salmon's 
vessel  had  come  upon  an  empty  canoe  driven  before  the  wind.  The  sailors 
guessed  'twas  blown  from  some  salvage  Indian  and  would  have  taken  no 
further  note  of  it,  save  that  on  passing  closer  they  heard  strange  cries  issuing 
from  it.  Word  was  sent  to  Captain  Salmon,  who  ordered  the  vessel  hove  to 
and  sent  a  boat  over  to  investigate." 

"Many,  Henry!"  Ebenezer  said  breathlessly.  "Was't  you?" 

"Aye,  a  lad  of  two  or  three  months,  stark  naked  and  like  to  perish  of 
the  cold.  My  hands  and  feet  were  bound  with  rawhide,  and  on  my 
skin,  like  a  sailor's  tattoo,  was  writ  the  name  Henry  Burlingame  III,  in 
small  red  letters.  They  fetched  me  aboard " 

"Wait,  I  pray  you!  I  must  assimilate  these  wonders,,  that  you  drop  as 
light  as  goose-dung!  Naked  and  tattooed,  i'faithl  Is't  still  to  be  seen?" 

"Nay,  'tis  long  since  faded." 

"But  how  came  you  to  be  there?  Surely  'twas  some  villainy!" 


[150]  THE  SOX-WEED  FACTOR 

"No  man  knows,"  Burlingame  said.  "The  canoe  and  the  thongs  where- 
with I  was  bound  bespoke  salvagery,  yet  there's  not  a  salvage  in  the  country 
knows  his  letters,  to  my  knowledge,  and  my  skin  and  scalp  were  whole." 

"Agad!"  Ebenezer  cried.  "What  creature  is't  could  bear  such  malice  to 
a  silly  babe,  that  not  content  to  do  him  to  death,  must  do't  in  such  a  hard 
and  lingering  fashion?" 

"  Tis  a  mystery  to  this  day.  In  any  case,  Captain  Salmon  had  me  clapped 
under  coverlets  in  his  own  cabin,  where  for  ten  days  and  nights  I  hung 
'twixt  here  and  hereafter,  and  fed  me  on  fresh  goat's  milk.  At  length  my 
fever  abated  and  my  health  returned;  Captain  Salmon  took  a  fancy  to  me 
and  resolved  ere  his  ship  returned  to  Bristol  I  would  be  his  son.  More  than 
this  my  Captain  Hill  knew  naught,  and  though  'twas  volumes  more  than 
erst  Fd  known,  yet  so  far  from  laying  my  curiosity,  it  but  pricked  him  up 
the  more,  I  offered  then  and  there  to  join  the  Hope's  crew  for  the  voyage 
back  to  Maryland,  where  I  meant  to  turn  the  very  marshes  inside  out  for 
clues." 

"Twas  a  desperate  resolve,  was't  not?**  Ebenezer  smiled*  "The  more 
since  you  knew  not  whence  the  canoe  had  blown,  or  where  the  ship  o'er- 
took  it." 

"It  was  indeed,"  Burlingame  agreed,  "though  a  desperate  resolve  may 
sometimes  meet  success*  In  any  case,  'twas  that  or  give  over  my  quest.  I 
had  a  fortnight's  time  ere  the  Hope  sailed,  and  like  a  proper  scholar  I  ran- 
sacked the  records  of  the  Customs-house,  My  end  this  time  was  to  search 
out  all  the  Burlingames  in  Maryland,  for  once  in  the  Province  I  meant 
to  make  my  way  to  each,  by  fair  means  or  foul,  and  dig  for  what  I  sought 
Who  could  say  but  that  one  among  their  number  mi^ht  have  sired  me?" 

"Well,"  said  Ebenezer,  "and  did  you  find  any?" 

Burlingame  shook  his  head*  'To  the  best  of  my  knowledge  not  a  man 
or  woman  of  that  name  lives  now  in  the  Province,,  or  hath  ever  rince  its 
founding.  Next  I  resolved  to  search  the  records  of  all  the  other  provinces 
in  like  manner,  working  north  and  south  in  turn  from  Maryland.  The 
task  was  rendered  harder  by  the  many  changes  in  grants  and  charters  over 
the  years,  and  farther  by  the  fear  of  civil  war,  which  ever  works  a  wondrous 
ruin  to  the  custom  clerk's  faith  in  his  fellow  man.  I  started  on  Virginia, 
working  back  from  the  current  year,  but  ere  I'd  got  past  Cromwell's  time 
my  fortnight  was  run,  and  off  I  sailed  to  Maryland/'  Burlingame  smiled 
and  tapped  ashes  from  his  pipe,  "Had  the  wind  held  bad  another  fortnight, 
Fd  have  found  somewhat  to  fan  my  hopes  enormously.  As  'twas,  I  waited 
near  two  years  to  find  it" 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [151] 

was  that?  News  of  your  father?" 

"Nay,  Eben— of  that  gentleman  I  know  no  more  today  than  I  knew  then, 
nor  of  my  mother  or  myself/' 

"Ah,  'twere  better  you'd  not  told  me  that,"  Ebenezer  declared,  clucking 
his  tongue,  "for  it  spoils  the  story.  What  man  could  pleasure  in  a  quest, 
or  the  tale  of  one,  that  he  knew  ere  he  launched  it  was  in  vain?" 

"Would  you  have  me  forego  the  rest?"  Burlingame  asked.  "The  news 
was  merely  of  my  grandfather,  or  so  I  believe— I've  come  to  know  some- 
what of  that  fellow,  at  least." 

"Ah,  thou'rt  teasing  me,  then!" 

Burlingame  nodded  and  stood  up.  "I  know  no  more  of  my  father  than 
before,  but  'tis  not  to  say  I'm  no  nearer  knowing.  No  indeed.  Howbeit, 
the  tale  shall  have  to  keep." 

"What!  Thou'rt  not  affronted,  Henry?" 

"Nay,  nay,"  Burlingame  replied.  "But  I  hear  our  driver  harnessing  the 
team  in  the  yard.  Stretch  your  legs  a  bit,  lad,  and  relieve  thyself  ere  we 

go-" 

"But  surely  you'll  take  up  the  tale  again?"  Ebenezer  pleaded. 

Burlingame  shrugged,  "  'Twere  better  you  slept  if  you  can.  If  not,  why 
then  'tis  good  to  have  a  tale  to  wait  the  dawn  with." 

At  that  moment  the  new  driver  burst  in,  cursing  the  rain,,  and  told  the 
travelers  to  make  ready  for  departure.  Accordingly  they  went  outside, 
where  a  high  March  wind  was  whipping  the  light  rain  into  spray. 


5:    BURLINGAME'S  TALE  CONTINUED,  TILL  ITS  TELLER 
FALLS  ASLEEP 


ONCE  SETTLED  IN  THE  CARRIAGE  FOR  THE  SECOND  LEG  OF  THEIR  JOURNEY, 

Ebenezer  and  Burlingame  tried  to  sleep,  but  found  the  road  too  rough. 
Despite  their  weariness,  a  half  hour  of  pitching  and  bouncing  persuaded 
them  the  attempt  was  vain,  and  they  gave  it  up. 

"Fie  on  it,"  Ebenezer  sighed.  "Time  enough  to  rest  in  the  grave,  as 
Father  says/* 

"True  enough,"  Burlingame  agreed,  "though  to  put  it  off  too  long  is 
but  to  get  there  the  sooner." 

At  Ebenezer's  suggestion  they  filled  and  lit  their  pipes.  Then  the  poet 


[  152  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

declared,  "As  for  me,  I  welcome  the  postponement.  Were  my  bladder  full 
of  Lethean  dew  instead  of  Bristol  sherry,  I  still  could  ne'er  forget  the  tale 
you've  told  me,  nor  hope  to  sleep  till  I've  heard  it  out" 

"Thou'rt  not  bored  with  it?" 

"Bored!  Saving  only  the  history  of  your  travels  with  the  gypsies,  which 
you  told  me  years  ago  in  Cambridge,  I  ne'er  have  heard  such  marvels! 
Tis  well  I  know  thee  a  stranger  to  pervarication,  else  'twere  hard  to  credit 
such  amazements." 

"Methinks  then  I  had  best  leave  off,"  Burlingame  said,  "for  no  man 
knows  another's  heart  for  certain,  and  what  I've  said  thus  far  is  but  a  tuning 
of  the  strings,  as't  were." 

"Prithee  strike  'em,  then,  without  delay,  and  trust  me  to  believe  you." 

'Very  well.  'Tis  not  so  deadly  long  a  story,  but  I  must  own  'tis  a  passing 
tangled  one,  with  much  running  hither  ^ad  thither  and  an  army  of  names 
to  bear  in  mind." 

"The  grapes  are  no  fewer  on  a  tangled  vin^  Ebenezer  replied,  and 
Burlingame  without  further  prelude  resumed  his  tale: 

"Twould  have  pleased  Dick  Hill  well  enough,"  he  said,  "to  keep  me 
in  his  crew,  for  a  week  aboard  caused  all  my  sailor's  craft,  which  I'd  not 
rehearsed  for  over  fifteen  years,  to  spring  to  mind.  But  once  in  Maryland 
I  left  his  vessel  and,  not  wishing  to  bind  myself  to  one  location  by  teach- 
ing, I  took  a  post  on  Hill's  plantation," 

"Was't  not  equally  confining?"  Ebenezer  asked. 

"Not  for  long,  I  began  by  keeping  his  books— for  'tis  a  rare  planter  there 
can  do  sums  properly.  Soon  I  so  gained  his  confidence  that  he  trusted  me 
with  the  entire  management  of  his  sot-weed  holdings  on  the  Severn,  de- 
claring that  though  'twas  too  considerable  a  business  to  let  go,  yet  he  had 
small  love  for't,  and  had  rather  spend  his  time  a-sailoring  " 

"I'faith,  then  thou'rt  a  Maryland  sot-weed  planter  before  me!  I  must 
hear  how  you  managed  it." 

"Another  time,"  Burlingame  replied,  "for  here  the  story  makes  sail  and 
weighs  its  anchor.  Twas  1688,  and  the  provinces  were  in  as  great  a  ferment 
as  England  over  Papist  and  Protestant.  In  Maryland  and  New  England 
trouble  was  particularly  rife:  Baltimore  himself  and  most  of  the  Maryland 
Council  were  Catholics,  and  both  the  Governor  and  Lieutenant  Governor 
of  New  England— Sir  Edmund  Andros  and  Francis  Nicholson— ww  also 
known  to  be  no  enemies  of  King  James.  The  leader  of  &e  Maryland 
rebels  was  one  John  Goode— -" 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"Aye,  I  had  that  name  from  Baltimore,"  Ebenezer  said.  "He  is  the  false 
priest  that  snatched  the  government/' 

"An  extraordinary  fellow,  Eben,  I  swear't!  Haply  you'll  meet  him,  for 
he's  still  at  large.  His  counterpart  in  New  York  was  Jacob  Leisler,  who 
had  designs  on  Nicholson.  Now  it  happened  that  winter  that  Leisler  came 
to  Maryland  for  the  purpose  of  conniving  with  Coode.  Word  had  just 
reached  us  of  King  William's  landing,  and  'twas  their  design  to  strike  to- 
gether, the  one  at  St.  Mary's,  the  other  at  New  York.  To  be  brief,  Captain 
Hill  got  wind  oft  and  sent  me  to  New  York  in  January,  ere  Leisler  returned, 
to  warn  Nicholson." 

"Then  Captain  Hill  is  a  Papist?" 

"No  more  than  you  or  I,"  Burlingame  replied.  "  Twas  not  a  matter  of 
faith,  in  Maryland.  Old  Coode  is  no  more  for  William  than  for  James: 
'tis  government  itself  he  loathes,  and  any  kind  of  orderl  Leisler's  but  a  fop 
beside  him." 

"May  I  never  meet  this  Coode!"  said  Ebenezer.  "Did  you  reach  New 
York?" 

"Aye,  and  Nicholson  swore  like  a  cannoneer  at  the  news  I  brought  him. 
He  himself  had  come  to  Andros  in  '86  as  captain  of  an  Irish  Papist  troop, 
and  in  New  York  he'd  celebrated  the  birth  of  James's  son;  he  knew  well 
the  rebels  marked  him  for  a  Romanist  and  would  lose  no  chance  to  turn 
him  out.  He  tried  in  vain  to  keep  the  news  suppressed,  and  inasmuch  as 
Dick  Hill  had  placed  me  at  his  service,  he  sent  me  on  to  Boston  to  warn 
Andros.  I  gained  the  confidence  of  both  men,  and  at  my  own  request 
spent  the  next  few  months  as  private  messenger  betwixt  them— my  virtue 
being  that  I  was  not  a  member  of  their  official  family  and  hence  could 
move  with  ease  among  the  rebels.  Nay,  I  will  own  I  more  than  once  took 
it  upon  myself  to  pass  as  one  of  their  number,  and  thus  was  able  on  oc- 
casion to  report  their  doings  to  the  Governor." 

"But  thou'rt  fearless,  Henry!" 

"Eh?  Ah  well,  fearless  or  no,  I  did  the  cause  of  order  small  good.  The 
rebels  seized  Andros  that  spring,  as  soon  as  they  heard  of  William's  progress, 
and  clapped  him  in  the  Boston  jail.  In  New  York  they  spread  a  tale  that 
Nicholson  meant  to  fire  the  town,  and  on  the  strength  of  it  Leisler  mustered 
force  enough  to  take  the  garrison." 

"What  of  Nicholson?  Did  he  escape?" 

"Aye,"  said  Burlingame.  "In  June  he  fled  by  ship  for  London,  and  for 
all  Leisler  called  him  a  privateer,  he  got  back  safely." 


[  154]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"Safely!"  Ebenezer  cried.  "Was't  not  a  case  of  frying  pan  to  fire,  to  See 
from  Leisler  into  William's  arms?" 

Burlingame  laughed.  "Nay,  Eben,  Old  Nick  is  not  so  simple  a  fool  as 
that,,  as  you  shall  see  betimes." 

"Well,  what  of  thee,  Henry?  Did  you  make  your  way  back  to  Maryland?" 

"Nay  again,  for  that  were  a  leap  to  the  fire  indeed!  Twas  in  July  that 
Coode  made  his  play,  and  by  August  had  the  Governor's  Council  besieged 
in  the  Mattapany  blockhouse.  Nay,  I  stayed  behind  in  New  England— first 
in  New  York  and  then,  when  Nicholson  was  safely  out,  in  Boston.  My 
design  was  to  get  Sir  Edmund  Andros  out  of  Castle  Island  prison.*' 

"B'm'faith!"  said  Ebenezer,  "  Tis  a  tale  out  of  Esquemeling!" 

"In  more  ways  than  .one,"  Burlingame  replied  with  a  smile*  "There  lay 
in  Boston  harbor  an  English  frigate,  the  Ro$#,  designed  to  guard  the  local 
craft  from  pirates.  John  George,  her  captain,  was  friend  enough  of  Andros 
that  the  rebels  held  him  hostage,  lest  he  bombard  the  town  for  the 
Governor's  release.  Twas  my  wish  to  do  exactly  that,  if  need  be,  and  spirit 
him  off  to  France  aboard  the  Ro$0." 

"However  did  you  manage  it?" 

"I  didn't,  though  'twas  no  fault  of  my  plan,  I  found  nie  a  friend  of 
Captain  George's  named  Thomas  Pound,  a  pilot  and  mapmaker,  who  was 
ready  for  a  price  to  show  his  loyalty  to  Andros.  The  Governor  escaped, 
and  five  days  later  we  slipped  out  of  the  harbor  into  Massachusetts  Bay, 
put  on  the  guise  of  pirates,  and  commenced  to  harass  the  fishing  fleet/' 

"'Sbodyl" 

"Twas  our  intention  so  to  nettle  them  that  at  last  they'd  send  out 
Captain  George  in  the  Row  frigate  to  reduce  us;  then  we'd  sail  to  Rhode 
Island,  pick  up  Andros,  and  set  our  course  for  France.  But  ere  we'd  brought 
them  to  such  straits,  word  reached  us  Andros  was  already  recaptured  and 
on  his  way  to  England." 

"In  any  case,"  Ebenezer  said,  "'twas  a  worthy  attempt/' 

"Belike  it  was,  to  start  with,"  Burlingame  replied.  "But  as't  turned  out, 
when  Tom  Pound  learned  'twas  all  for  naught,  he  was  in  a  pickle:  he 
could  not  sail  into  Boston  harbor  lest  he  be  hanged  for  a  pirate;  nor  could 
he  cross  to  France  for  lack  of  provision.  The  upshot  of  it  was,  we  turned 
to  doing  in  earnest  what  before  we'd  feigned/' 

"Nay,  f  God!" 

"Aye  and  we  did;  turned  pirate,  and  prowled  the  northern  coast  for  prey/' 

"But  marry,  Henry— you  were  with  them?" 

"  Twas  that  or  be  thrown  to  the  fishes,  Eben.  Aye,  I  fought  along  with 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  X55  ] 

the  rest  nor  can  I  say  in  truth  I  loathed  it,  though  I  felt  it  wrong.  There 
is  a  charm  in  outlawry  that  the  good  man  little  dreams  of.  ...  Tis  a 
liquor " 

"I  pray  you  were  not  long  drunk  with  it!"  Ebenezer  said.  "It  seems  a 
perilous  brew." 

"Tis  no  pap  for  sucklings,  I  must  own.  For  full  two  months  Pound 
robbed  and  plundered,  though  he  seldom  got  aught  for  his  pain  save  salt 
pork  and  fresh  water.  In  October  he  was  set  oti  by  a  Boston  sloop  off 
Martha's  Vineyard,  and  every  soul  aboard  killed  or  wounded.  I,  thank 
Heav'n,  had  made  my  escape  some  weeks  before,  in  Virginia,  and  inasmuch 
as  I'd  assumed  another  name  throughout  my  stay  in  New  England,  I  little 
feared  detection.  I  made  the  best  oft  back  to  Maryland  and  rejoined  Dick 
Hill  in  Anne  Arundel,  who'd  long  since  given  me  up  for  dead.  I  was  the 
more  anxious  to  leave  Pound  for  that  John  Coode  knew  Captain  Hill  for 
an  enemy  and  was  sure  to  work  him  some  injury  ere  long.  Moreover,  I  had 
another  reason,  more  selfish,  it  may  be,  but  no  less  pressing:  I  had  word 
that  there  were  Burlingames  in  Virginia!" 

"Nay,  'tis  marvelous!"  cried  Ebenezer.  "Kin  of  thine?" 

"That  I  knew  not,  nor  whether  any  were  yet  alive;  I  had  it  only  that 
a  Burlingame— in  sooth  .a  Henry  Burlingame— was  among  the  very  first 
to  settle  in  that  dominion,  and  I  meant  to  find  excuse  to  go  there  and 
make  enquiries." 

"How  ever  came  you  to  hear  oft,  while  you  sailed  willy-nilly  o'er  the 
ocean?  Tis  of  the  stature  of  a  miracle!" 

"No  miracle,  or  'tis  an  odd  God  worked  it.  The  tale  is  no  marvel  of 
brevity,  Eben." 

"Yet  it  must  be  told,"  Ebenezer  insisted. 

Burlingame  shrugged.  "As  you  wish.  Twas  while  I  was  with  Pound,  at 
the  height  of  his  pirating.  Our  usual  prey  was  small  merchantmen  and 
coasting  vessels;  we  would  overhaul  them,  steal  what  pleased  us,  and  turn 
'em  loose,  offering  hurt  to  none  save  those  who  made  to  resist  us.  But 
once  when  a  nor'easter  ha<J  blown  us  into  Virginian  waters  we  came  upon 
2n  ancient  pinnace  at  the  mouth  of  the  York  River,  bound  up  the  Chesa- 
peake, which,  when  we  had  turned  out  all  her  crew  for  looting,  we  found 
to  carry  three  passengers  besides:  a  coarse  fellow  of  fifty  years  or  so;  his 
wife,  who  was  some  years  younger;  and  their  daughter,  a  girl  not  yet  turned 
twenty.  She  was  an  uncommon  tasty  piece,  by  the  look  of  her,  dark-haired 
and  spirited,  and  her  mother  not  much  less.  At  the  sight  of  them  our  men 
put  by  all  thought  of  plunder,  which  had  in  truth  been  lean,  and  made  to 


[156]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

swive  the  twain  of  'em  then  and  there.  Captain  Pound  durst  not  say  them 
nay,  albeit  he  was  himself  opposed  to  violence,  for  such  was  their  ferocity, 
having  seen  nor  hide  nor  hair  of  woman,  as't  were,  since  we  sailed  from 
Boston,  they'd  have  mutinied  on  the  spot.  And  had  I  made  the  smallest 
move  to  stay  them,  they'd  have  flung  me  in  an  instant  to  the  fishes! 

'In  a  trice  the  ruffians  stripped  'em  and  fetched  'em  to  the  rail  Tis  e'er 
the  pirates'  wont  to  take  their  captives  at  the  rail,  you  know,  whether  bent 
on't  backwards  or  triced  hand  to  foot  o'ertop.  A  mate  of  mine  saw  a  maid 
once  forced  by  thirteen  brigands  in  the  former  manner,  with  the  taffrail  at 
the  small  of  her  back,  till  at  last  they  broke  her  spine  and  heaved  her  over. 
Tis  but  to  make  the  thing  more  cruel,  methinks,  they  do  it  thus;  Captain 
Hill  once  told  me  of  an  old  French  rogue  he'd  met  in  Martinique,  that 
swore  no  woman  pleased  him  save  when  staring  at  the  sharks  who'd  have 
her  when  the  rape  was  done,  and  that  having  once  tasted  such  refined 
delights  he  ne'er  could  roger  mistresses  ashore  " 

"No  more,  I  pray  you!"  Ebenezer  cried*  "Tis  not  a  history  of  the 
salvagery  I  crave,  but  news  of  the  hapless  victims." 

"Thou'rt  overly  impatient,  then/*  Burlingame  said  mildly.  The  vilest 
deed  hath  a  lesson  in  it  for  him  who  craves  to  learn.  Howbeit,  where  did 
I  leave  the  women?" 

"At  the  ship's  rail,  with  their  virtue  in  extremis.*' 
"Ah,  indeed,  'twas  a  bad  hour  to  be  female,  for  sixteen  men  lined  up  to 
ravage  'em.  The  husband  all  the  while  was  begging  mercy  for  himself,  with 
never  a  word  for  the  women,  and  the  wife  resisting  with  all  her  strength; 
but  the  girl,  when  she  saw  the  pirate's  design,  spoke  quickly  to  her  mother 
in  French,  which  none  aboard  could  ken  save  me,  and  she  made  no  re- 
sistance, but  asked  the  sailors  calmly,  with  a  French  cast  to  her  voice,  which 
they  had  more  use  for,  her  chastity  or  a  hundred  pounds  apiece?  At  first  the 
men  ignored  her,  so  taken  were  they  by  the  sight  of  her  unclothed. 
But  all  the  way  to  the  tail  she  pled  her  case-or  rather  posed  her  offer, 
for  her  voice  was  cold  and  merchantlike.  She  was  of  French  nobility,  she 
declared,  and  her  mother  likewise,  and  should  they  meet  with  injury  the 
entire  crew  would  surely  hang  fort;  but  if  they  were  set  free  unscathed,  every 
man  aboard  would  have  a  hundred  pounds  within  the  week, 

"Here  I  saw  a  chance  to  aid  them,  if  I  could  but  stay  the  pirates'  lust  a 
moment.  To  that  end  I  joined  their  fondling-even  pushed  some  others 
aside  and  forced  her  to  the  rail  myself,  as  if  to  take  first  place-but 
then  delayed,  and  when  she  made  again  her  offer  I  cried,  'Hold  back, 
mates,  and  let  us  hear  the  wench  out  ere  we  caulk  her.  Tis  many  a  tart 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  157  3 

we  could  have  with  a  hundred  pounds.'  I  reminded  them  further  of  our 
plan  to  cross  to  France  when  we'd  had  our  fill  of  pirating,  and  questioned 
whether  'twere  prudent  so  to  imperil  our  reception  there.  My  chief  intention 
was  to  stay  them  for  a  time  at  least  and  make  them  reflect,  for  reflection  is 
a  famous  foe  of  violence— 'tis  a  beast  indeed  who  rapes  on  second  thought! 
So  far  did  the  strategem  succeed,  that  the  men  began  to  jeer  and  scoff  at 
the  proposal,  but  made  no  farther  move  for  the  nonce. 

"  'How  is't  ye  ladies  of  the  court  be  sailing  on  such  a  privy  as  this?' 
one  asked,  and  the  daughter  replied  they  were  not  rich,  but  had  only  wealth 
enough  to  pay  their  promised  ransom  and  would  be  paupers  after.  Another 
asked  profanely  of  the  mother,  How  was't  a  noblewoman  thought  no 
better  of  her  noble  arse  than  to  wed  it  to  that  craven  lout  her  husband? 
This  I  thought  a  sharper  question,  for  he  was  indeed  a  coarse  and  common 
tradesman,  by  the  look  of  him.  But  the  daughter  $poke  rapidly  in  French, 
and  the  lady  replied,  that  her  husband  came  from  one  of  Virginia's  grand- 
est families.  To  which  the  daughter  added,  If  you  must  know,  'twas  a 
marriage  of  convenience,'  and  went  on  to  say  in  effect,,  that  even  as  her 
father  had  bought  her  mother's  honor  with  his  estate,  so  now  she  would 
buy  it  back  from  us,  for  that  same  estate.  The  men  took  this  merrily  and 
heaped  no  end  of  ridicule  upon  the  husband,  who  was  like  to  beshit  him- 
self with  fright  upon  the  deck.  They  were  now  of  half  a  mind  to  swive 
and  half  to  take  the  hundred  pounds,  but  scarce  knew  whether  or  not 
to  credit  the  women's  story. 

"Now  you  must  know  that  'twas  my  wont  whenever  I  met  a  stranger 
to  enquire  of  him,  Had  he  ever  known  a  wight  by  name  of  Burlingame? 
And  would  explain,  I  had  a  friend  called  Henry  Burlingame  Third,  who 
greatly  wished  to  prove  he  was  no  bastard.  All  the  men  aboard  had  got 
accustomed  to't,  and  made  it  their  jest  to  speak  amongst  themselves  of 
Henry  Burlingame  Third  as  some  grand  fellow  whom  all  must  know.  For 
this  reason,  when  the  lady  had  made  her  speech  a  wag  amongst  us  said, 
'If  he  be  a  great  Virginia  gentleman,  then  surely  he  must  know  Sir  Henry 
Burlingame,  the  rtoblest  Virginian  that  ever  shat  on  sot-weed.'  And  he 
added  that  if  they  knew  him  not  they  must  needs  be  impostors,  and  to 
the  rail  with  'em.  At  this  methought  the  game  was  done,,  inasmuch  as  'twas 
but  a  fool's  test,  to  give  excuse  for  swiving.  But  the  maid  replied,  she  did 
indeed  know  of  a  Henry  Burlingame  of  Jamestown,  that  had  come  thither 
with  the  first  settlers  and  declared  himself  a  knight,  and  she  went  on  to 
say,  by  way  of  proof,  that  'twas  much  doubted  in  her  circle  whether  he 
was  in  truth  of  noble  origin. 


[  158  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"At  this  the  men  were  much  surprised,  none  more  than  myself,  and  I 
resolved  to  risk  my  life,  if  need  be,  to  spare  theirs  so  I  might  query  them 
farther  on  this  head.  I  declared  to  the  men  that  all  the  wench  had  said 
of  Burlingame  was  true,  and  that  for  my  part  I  believed  the  whole  of 
her  tale  and  was  ready  to  trade  her  maidenhead  for  a  hundred  pounds. 
The  greater  part  of  the  men  seemed  ready  enough  to  do  the  same,  now  their 
first  ardor  was  cooled— the  more  for  that  our  pirating  ere  then  had  yielded 
little  profit.  Captain  Pound  raised  then  the  question  of  hostages,  and  it  was 
resolved  that  one  of  their  number  must  remain  behind  till  the  ransom  was 
paid,  and  forfeit  life  and  honor  if  'twere  not  At  this,  mother  and  daughter 
spoke  briefly  in  French,  after  which  each  pleaded  to  be  left  as  hostage, 
so  that  the  father  might  be  spared," 

44  'Sheart,  what  solicitude!"  Ebenezer  cried  'The  wretch  merited  no  such 
affection!" 

Burlingame  laughed,  "So't  appeared  to  all  the  crew  save  me,  who  followed 
clearly  what  was  said.  Know,  Eben,  that  these  fine  women  were  bald 
impostors.  The  daughter  had  conceived  the  ruse  and  told  it  to  her  mother 
in  French.  And  when  the  matter  of  hostages  arose,  the  mother  had  said 
Tray  God  they  will  take  Harry,  for  then  we'd  be  quit  of  him  for  fair,  and 
not  a  penny  poorer/  And  the  maiden's  brave  reply  was,  *  Tis  sure  they  will 
take  thee  or  me  for  swiving,  unless  we  persuade  them  of  his  value/  'FoghP 
had  cried  the  mother.  The  beast  hath  not  the  value  of  bou&m#rdef~~ 
which  is  to  say,  the  droppings  of  a  billy  goat  To  this  the  maid  replied, 
that  such  exactly  were  her  sentiments,  and  the  only  recourse  was  to  offer 
themselves  and  plead  for  his  release  relying  on  our  gullibility. 

"The  men  at  first  ignored  the  bait,  until  I  asked  the  ladies  Wherefore 
their  devotion,  seeing  he  was  such  a  craven  brute,  who  had  shown  no  con- 
cern for  them  at  all  what  time  we  made  to  swive  them,  but  blubbered 
only  for  himself?  To  which  the  maid  replied,  that  though  'twas  true  he 
cared  naught  for  them  and  had  liefer  part  with  both  than  lose  ten  crown, 
yet  they  did  adore  him  as  foolish  women  will,  and  would  perish  ere  they 
saw  him  injured.  The  husband  was  so  entirely  astonished  by  this  speech, 
that  at  first  he  could  not  speak  for  rage  and  tenor,  and  ere  he  could  collect 
himself  I  declared  that  clearly  he  was  not  to  be  trusted  ashore  but  must 
be  our  hostage,  and  the  ladies  sent  for  the  ransom,  inasmuch  as  their  de- 
votion to  him  assured  their  return.  The  men  were  most  reluctant  to  set 
the  wenches  free,  but  Captain  Pound  saw  reason  in  my  aiguznent,  and 
ordered  it  so.  The  fellow  was  sent  below  in  chains,  the  ladies  fetched  new 
clothing  from  their  chests,  and  a  boat  was  made  ready  to  cany  them 
ashore;  but  ere  it  left  I  got  the  Captain's  ear  in  secret,  aad  implored  him 


THE   SOT-WEEI>  FACTOR  [  159] 

to  send  me  with  them  to  guarantee  their  return,  inasmuch  as  I  could  under- 
stand their  tongue,  unknown  to  them,  and  would  thus  be  forewarned  of 
any  treachery.  He  was  loath  to  let  me  go,  but  at  length  I  prevailed  upon 
him,  and  rowed  off  with  the  ladies  in  a  longboat.  The  plan  was  that  Pound 
should  go  a-pirating  for  some  weeks  and  come  again  to  the  Capes  where  I 
would  rejoin  him  at  the  end  of  September.  Moreover,  to  quiet  the  suspicions 
of  the  crew,  and  their  envy  of  my  lot,  I  declared  to  them  aside  that  I  would 
have  the  women  themselves  bring  the  ransom  aboard,  which  once  secured, 
they  could  be  swived  till  the  rail  gave  way!" 

"Henry!"  Ebenezer  exclaimed.  "Can't  be  that " 

"Hold  on/*  Burlingame  interrupted,  "till  the  tale  is  done.  We  were  put 
ashore  near  Accomac,  on  Virginia's  Eastern  Shore,  whence  we  were  to  start 
our  journey  to  the  ladies'  home.  Twas  dark  when  we  landed,  for  we  feared 
detection,  and  we  resolved  to  go  no  farther  until  dawn,  but  make  a  fire 
upon  the  beach  wherewith  to  warm  ourselves.  As  we  watched  the  pirates 
make  sail  and  get  under  way  in  the  moonlight,  both  women  wept  for  very 
joy,  and  the  mother  said,  in  French,  'God  bless  you,  Henrietta;  you  have 
rid  us  of  .the  pirates  and  your  father  in  a  single  stroke!"  The  maid  replied, 
'Rather  bless  this  fellow  with  us,  who  is  so  wondrous  stupid  to  believe  my 
lies/  Indeed,'  said  the  mother.  'Who'd  have  looked  for  such  a  fool  'neath 
such  a  handsome  skin?'  At  this  they  laughed  at  their  boldness,  little  dream- 
ing I  could  grasp  their  every  word,  and  to  carry  the  sport  yet  farther  the 
maid  declared,  'Aye,  in  sooth  he  is  a  pretty  fellow,  mother,  such  as  you 
nor  I  have  never  spent  a  night  with/  'Nor  would  ever/  said  the  other, 
Tiad  we  not  got  shed  of  Harry.  I  must  own  that  had  he  made  the  threat 
alone,  I'd  have  let  him  have  his  rape  and  saved  our  money.  Yet  I'd  not 
have  wished  thee  touched/  'Oh  la/  the  maid  replied,  'think  not  I  plan  to 
lose  a  penny:  the  handsome  wretch  will  fall  asleep  anon,  and  we  shall 
either  flee  or  do  him  to  death.  As  for  my  maidenhead,  'tis  but  a  champagne 
cork  to  me,  which  must  be  popped  ere  the  pleasantries  commence/  And 
looking  me  in  the  eye,  she  said  for  a  tease,  'What  say  you,  fellow:  veux-tu 
&tre  man  tire-bouchon?  Eh?  Veux-tu  me  vriller  want  que  je  te  tue?' " 

"I  know  not  the  tongue/'  said  Ebenezer,  "but  the  sound  is  far  from 
chaste." 

"Shame  on  you,  then,  that  you  have  not  learned  it,"  Burlingame  scolded. 
"  Tis  a  marvelous  tongue  for  wooing  in.  I  cannot  tell  how  fetching  'twas 
to  hear  such  lewdness  spoke  in  such  sweet  tones.  'Poingonne-tu  mon  petit 
I  hear't  yet,  i'faith,  and  sweat  and  shiver!  I  saw  no  need  to  carry 


the  deception  farther,  and  so  replied  in  faultless  Paris  French,  '  Twill  be 
an  honor,  mademoiselle  et  madame,  nor  need  you  kill  me  after,  for  your 


[  ifo  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

joy  at  leaving  those  brigands  behind  doth  not  exceed  my  own/  They  had 
like  to  perish  of  astonishment  and  shame  on  hearing  me,  the  maid  es- 
pecially; but  when  I  explained  how  I  had  come  to  be  among  the  pirates, 
and  what  it  was  I  sought,  they  were  soon  pacified— nay,  cordial,  even  more 
than  cordial.  They  could  scarce  leave  off  expressing  gratitude,  and,  seeing 
the  cat  was  out  of  the  bag,  we  spent  the  night  a-sporting  on  the  sand." 

"A  pretty  tale  indeed,  if  not  a  virtuous,"  Ebenezer  said.  "But  did  you 
learn  no  more  of  that  old  Burlingame,  for  whom  you'd  saved  the  ladies?" 

"Aye,"  said  Burlingame.  "That  same  night  I  queried  them  whether  'twas 
but  a  fiction  they'd  contrived  regarding  Burlingame.  And  the  maid  replied 
'twas  no  fiction  at  all,  that  her  father  was  a  great  pretender  to  distinction, 
who,  though  he  was  in  fact  a  bastard,  was  much  concerned  to  glorify  his 
lineage  and  was  forever  running  hither  and  thither  for  ancient  records, 
which  his  daughter  had  to  search  for  the  family  name.  Twas  for  just  that 
cause  they'd  made  the  trip  to  Jamestown,  where  'mid  numerous  musty  pa- 
pers she'd  found  what  looked  to  be  some  pages  of  a  journal  writ  by  one 
Henry  Burlingame.  Howbeit,  she  gave  it  but  a  cursory  reading,  seeing  it 
made  no  mention  of  her  family,  and  recalled  only  that  it  spoke  of  some 
journey  or  other  from  Jamestown;  that  Captain  John  Smith  was  the  leader; 
and  that  there  seemed  some  ill  feeling  'twixt  him  and  the  author  of  the 
journal  Past  that  she'd  read  no  more  nor  could  remember  aught  Twas 
not  long  ere  I'd  had  my  fill  of  amorosities— for  thirty-five  hath  no  great 
stamina  in  such  matters— and  fell  asleep  beside  the  fire.  When  the  sun 
aroused  me  in  the  morning  I  found  the  women  gone,  not  have  I  seen 
them  since.  Twas  delicacy,  methinks,  that  moved  them  ere  I  waked— fall 
many  a  deed  smells  sweet  at  night  that  stinks  in  the  heat  of  the  sun,  What's 
more,  their  reputations  were  secure,  for  at  no  time  since  we'd  overhauled 
their  ship  had  they  revealed  their  names,  nor  more  of  where  they  lived 
save  that  'twas  on  the  Eastern  Shore  of  Maryland," 

"And  did  you  make  your  way  thence  to  Jamestown?* 

"Nay,  to  Anne  Arundel  County  and  Captain  Hill  I  wanted  sore  to  learn 
whether  Coode  had  harmed  him,  and  too  I  had  not  a  farthing  about  me 
wherewith  to  eat  Twas  my  design  to  work  awhile  for  Hill  and  then  pursue 
my  quest,  for  I  will  own  I  was  not  indifferent  toward  the  politics  of  the 
place,  and  would  have  welcomed  another  mission  like  the  one  I'd  just 
returned  from." 

'Thou'rt  a  glutton  for  adventure,0  Ebenezer  said. 

''Mayhap  I  am,  or  better,  a  glutton  for  the  great  world,  of  which  I  ne'er 
can  see  and  learn  enough." 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  l6l  ] 

Til  warrant  Captain  Hill  was  pleased  to,  see  you,  and  surprised!" 
"He  was  in  sooth,  for  he  had  heard  naught  of  me  since  Leisler's  re- 
bellion in  New  York,  and  feared  me  dead.  He  said  his  positibn  was  most 
perilous,  inasmuch  as  Coode  and  his  men  were  daily  laying  waste  his 
enemies'  estates,  and  had  spared  his  either  through  caprice  or  uncertainty 
as  to  Hill's  influence  in  England.  Twas  Coode's  conceit  to  call  himself 
Masaniello,  after  the  rebel  of  Naples;  Colonel  Henry  Jowles  of  Calvert 
County,  his  chief  lieutenant,  played  Count  Scamburgh;  Colonel  Ninian 
Beale  the  Earl  of  Argyle;  and  Kenelm  Cheseldyne,  the  speaker  of  the  As- 
sembly, was  Speaker  Williams.  While  they  played  at  court  in  this  manner, 
and  bragged  and  plundered  down  in  St.  Mary's,  I  spent  the  winter  putting 
Hill's  estate  in  order.  Whene'er  'twas  useful  I  made  excursions  about  the 
province  to  the  end  of  fomenting  opposition  in  the  several  counties,  and 
in  the  spring,  when  he  got  wind  oft,  Coode  resolved  to  do  us  in.  He 
trumped  up  a  charge  of  treasonable  speech  and  dispatched  no  fewer  than 
forty  men  to  destroy  us.  They  seized  the  ship  Hope,  which  Captain  Hill 
had  been  at  seven  hundred  pounds'  expense  to  fit  out  for  a  voyage,  and 
rifled  the  estate,  and  'twas  only  our  good  fortune  in  escaping  to  the  woods 
preserved  our  lives. 

"I  went  at  first  to  sundry  other  sea  captains,  friends  of  Hill's  and  enemies 

of  Colonel  Coode " 

"Colonel!"  Ebenezer  broke  in.  "Methought  he  was  a  priest!" 
"The  man  is  whate'er  he  chooses  to  call  himself,"  Burlingame  replied. 
"He  owns  to  no  authority  save  himself,  and  is  a  rebel  'gainst  man  and 
God  alike.  In  any  case,  I  learned  from  these  men  that  Francis  Nicholson, 
deposed  by  Leisler  as  a  Jacobite,  was  now  lieutenant  governor  of  Virginia 
(which  is  to  say  the  chief  officer,  since  the  governor  lives  in  England )» 
and  this  by  order  of  King  William  himself!  It  seems  the  King  little  bothers 
what  a  man  is  called  by  his  enemies,  so  long  as  he  doth  his  job  well,  and 
in  sooth  Old  Nick  is  the  veiy  devil  of  a  governor  for  all  his  faults.  These 
tidings  fell  sweetly  on  my  ear,  inasmuch  as  Nicholson  was  the  very  man 
who'd  best  protect  us,  and  Jamestown  the  very  place  I  wished  to  go.  I  had 
Hill's  friends  write  letters  to  Nicholson,  describing  Coode's  barbarity  and 
asking  asylum  for  the  Captain  and  his  house,  and  ere  June  was  done  we 
were  in  Jamestown.  'Masaniello'  and  his  crew  begged  and  threatened 
Nicholson  by  turns  to  get  their  hands  on  us,  but  de'il  the  good  it  did  him. 
'Tis  both  a  fault  and  a  virtue  in  Virginia,  that  fugitives  from  Maryland 
e'er  find  haven  there." 


[  162  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"But  did  you  find  the  precious  journal-book  you  sought?"  asked  Eben- 
ezer.  "Or  was't  but  a  tale  of  a  cock  and  a  bull  the  lass  on  the  strand  had 
spun  thee?  Prithee  put  me  off  no  farther  on  the  matter;  I  must  know  whether 
such  an  odyssey  bore  fruit!" 

Burlingame  laughed.  "Make  not  such  haste  to  reach  the  end,  Eben;  it 
spoils  the  pace  and  mixes  the  figures.  Whoever  saw  an  odyssey  bear  fruit?*' 

"Tease  no  more!"  Ebenezer  cried. 

"Very  well,  Master  Laureate:  I  did  indeed  lay  hands  upon  the  journal, 
what  oft  there  was;  what's  more,  I  made  a  copy  of  it,  faithful  to  the 
letter  save  for  one  or  two  dull  passages  that  I  summarized.  I  have  it  here 
in  my  coat,  and  in  the  morning  you  shall  read  it.  Suffice  it  now  to  say, 
I  am  persuaded  'tis  a  bona  fide  journal  of  Sir  Henry  Burlingame^  but 
whether  or  no  the  fellow  is  my  ancestor  I've  still  no  proof/' 

"Ffaith,  I'm  glad  you  found  it,  and  scarce  can  wait  till  dawn!  Tis  good 
thy  tale  is  not  yet  done,  else  'twere  a  hard  matter  to  feet  away  the  hours. 
What  wondrous  thing  befell  you  next?" 

"No  more  tonight/'  Burlingame  declared.  'The  road  is  smoother  here, 
and  the  night's  nigh  done.  The  balance  of  the  tale  can  wait  till  Plymouth/' 
So  saying,  he  would  hear  no  protest  from  Ebenezer,  but  stretching  out  his 
legs  as  best  he  could,  went  to  sleep  at  once.  The  poet,  however,  was  less 
fortunate:  try  as  he  might,  he  could  not  manage  even  to  keep  his  eyes 
closed,  much  less  resign  himself  to  sleep,  though  his  head  throbbed  from 
weariness.  Again  his  mind  was  filled  with  names,  the  names  first  heard  from 
Baltimore  and  now  fleshed  out  by  Burlingame's  narration,  and  figures  awful 
in  their  energy  and  purpose  prowled  his  fancy— his  friend  and  tutor  first 
among  them. 


6:    BURLINGAME'S  TALE  CARRIED  YET  FARTHER;  THE 
LAUREATE  READS  FROM  THE  PR1V1E  /QURNALL  OF  SIR 
HENRY  BURLINGAME  AND  DISCOURSES  ON  THE 
NATURE  OF  INNOCENCE 


WHEN  AFTER  DAWN  THE  TRAVELERS  STOPPED  FOR  THEIR  MORNING  MEAt 

at  Yeovil,  Ebenezer  demanded  at  once  to  see  the  document  Burlingame 
had  spoken  of,  but  his  tutor  lefused  to  hear  of  it  until  they'd  eaten-  Then, 
the  sun  having  come  out  warm  and  bright,  they  retired  outside  to  smoke 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  163  ] 

and  stretch  their  legs,  and  Burlingame  fetched  several  folded  sheets  from 
the  pocket  of  his  coat.  Atop  the  first  the  poet  read  The  Privie  Jourhdl  of 
Sir  Henry  Burlingame. 

"I  should  explain  the  title's  mine/'  said  Burlingame.  "As  you  can  see, 
the  journal  is  a  fragment,  but  the  journey  it  describes  is  writ  in  John  Smith's 
Generdl  Historie.  Twas  in  January  of  1607,  the  first  winter  of  the  colony, 
and  they  traveled  up  the  Chickahominy  River  to  find  the  town  of  Powhatan, 
Emperor  of  the  Indians.  There  was  much  ill  feeling  against  Captain  Smith 
in  Jamestown  at  the  time:  some  were  alarmed  at  his  machinations  to  un- 
seat President  Wingfield  and  President  Ratcliffe;  others  charged  him  with 
flaunting  the  instructions  of  the  London  Company,,  in  that  he  wasted  little 
time  searching  for  gold  or  for  a  water  passage  to  the  East;  others  yet  were 
merely  hungry,  and  thought  he  should  arrange  for  trade  with  Powhatan. 
Tis  plain  the  voyage  up  the  Chickahominy  was  a  happy  expedient,  for't 
promised  solution  to  all  these  grievances!  the  Captain  would  be  out  of 
politics  for  a  while,  for  one  thing,  and  some  declared  the  Chickahominy 
ran  west  to  the  Orient;  in  any  case,  'twas  almost  certain  the  Emperor's 
town  lay  not  many  miles  upriver.  Smith  tells  in  his  Historie  how  he  was 
made  captive  by  one  of  Powhatan's  lieutenants,  called  Opecancanough, 
and  escaped  death  by  means  of  magical  tricks  with  his  compass.  He  swears 
next  he  was  carried  alone  to  Powhatan,  condemned  to  death,  and  saved 
by  intercession  of  the  Emperor's  daughter.  His  version  oft  I  have  writ  there 
under  the  title." 

Ebenezer  read  the  brief  superscription: 

Being  ready  with  their  clubs,  to  beate  out  his  braines,  Pocahontas,  the 
Kings  dearest  daughter,  when  no  entreaty  could  prevaile,  got  his  head  in 
her  armes,  and  laid  her  owne  upon  his  to  save  him  from  death;  whereat 
the  Emperour  was  contented  he  should  live  to  make  him  hatchets,  and 
her  bells,  beads,  and  copper;  for  they  thought  him  as  well  of  dH  occupa- 
tions as  themselves. 

"Ffaith,"  he  said,  "  'tis  a  marvelous  rescue!" 

"  Tis  a  marvelous  romance,"  Burlingame  corrected,  "for  the  substance 
of  the  Journall  is,  that  this  Burlingame  witnessed  the  whole  proceeding, 
which  was  not  so  wondrous  heroic  after  all.  I'll  say  no  more,  but  leave 
you  to  read  the  piece  without  delay." 

So  saying,  Burlingame  went  inside  the  inn,  and  Ebenezer,  finding  a 
bench  in  the  sun,  made  himself  comfortable  and  read  in  the  Journall  as 
follows: 


[  164  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

The  Privie  Journdl  of  Sir  Henry  Burlingame 

I  ...  had  divers  times  caution*  d  [Smith],  that  our  guide,  a  rascaHie  Salvage 
that  had  liefer  sted  f  purse  than  look  at  you,  was  nowise  to  be  trusted,  he  being, 
doubtless  in  the  pay  of  the  Em^  [Powhatan].  But  he  w*  none  of  this,  and 
when,  the  River  growing  too  shdlowe  for  our  vessels,  this  same  Salvage  proposed 
we  walk  overland  to  the  E1***  towne,  w*k  he  claimed  wets  hard  bye,  our  Ca** 
agreed  at  once,  maugre  the  fact,  w*h  I  poynted  out  to  himf  that  the  'woods  there 
were  thick  as  any  jungle,  and  we  w*  be  $ett  upon  with  ease  by  hostile  Salvages. 
The  Ca**  made  the  usuall  rejoynders,  that  he  ever  rnaketh  on  being  shown  his 
ignorance  and  follie,  to  witt:  that  I  was  a  coward*  a  parasite,  a  lillie-liver'd  infant, 
and  belike  an  Eunuch  into  the  bargain.  This  lost,  he  regordeth  as  the  suprem- 
est  insult  he  can  hurl,  for  that  he  him  selfe  taketh  inordinate  pride  in  his  virHitie, 
In  sooth,  such  a  devotee  of  Venus  is  oar  O*,  that  rare  are  th*  times  when 
he  doth  not  boast  openlie,  and  in  the  lewdest  terms,  of  his  conquests  and  feats 
of  love  dl  over  the  Continent  and  among  the  Moors,  Turks,  and  Africkans. 
He  fancieth  him  self  a  Master  of  Vonwedl  Arts,  md  boa&eth  to  have  known 
carruxUie  every  kind  of  Woman  on  Earth,  in  all  of  Arttines  positions.  In  addition 
to  w°*,  he  owneth  an  infamous  lott  of  croticka  collected  in  his  tr&vtis,  items 
from  w°*  he  oft  dtepkyeth  to  certain  of  us  privSi*,  with  dl  the  mwggnim  of  <* 
Connoisseur.  More  of  this  anon,  but  I  may  not*  here,  that  fudging  from  our 
O'«  preoccupation  with  these  thingp,  w**ofta$not  represent  unnatwatt  as  mU 
as  naturdt  vices,  I  w*  be  no  whit  surprised  to  learn,  that  h&  taste  comprehend 
more  than  those  of  t  he  common  libertine  .  *  *  * 

[The  Author  here  describes,  how  the  party  goetfa  ashote,  and  is  fed  by  their 
treacherous  guide  into  the  hands  of  the  Indians.] 

The  Salvages  then  setting  upon  w,  as  had  him  prt  dkrfrdf  by  mm  uriatr  thm 
our  O*,  we  fought  them  off  <ts  fast  w*  c*9  with  muM  wxxs*,  for  th*  qu&tm 
were  close  and  our  attaekm  virtual!**  atop  iw.  Our  Jwder,  /or  his  part,  shrtwdli* 
puWd  that  Ganelon  our  Guide  before  him  for  a  shield,  and  retreated  in  afl  haste, 
exhorting  us  the  while  to  fight  like  men,  HappUi*,  he  caught  his  foot  upon  a 
root  of  cyprm,  and  flew  backward  off  th*  b&&  into  th*  mud  md  >ct.  Th* 
Sdva%e$  having  by  tfcfe  time  captur*d  us,  leapt  upon  him,  md  held  him  fast  on 
his  back,  and  on  our  informing  them,  in  r*spons*  to  th*r*  gum*,  Who  iw  our 
leader?  that  it  was  he,  there  Chief,  Opecm&mougfi,  md  his  stmeil  Ueutmemte, 
pleas'  d  them  selves  openlie,  md  us  private,  by  thereupon  mofemg  water  upon  ftitn, 
each  in  his  turn  according  to  rank. 

[The  prisoners,  of  w<*  there  are  five,  are  cany'd  to  a  clearing,  where  they 
are  tied  one  at  a  time  to  a  sweetgum  tree  and  shot  with  arrows,  till  none  but 
Smith  and  Burlingame  remain,] 


^,m, 
to  the  same  fate  suffer'd  by  the  others.  A  gentleman  to  the  md  [Smith]  .  .  . 
modestlie  suggested,  that  I  precede  him.  Be't  said,  that  in  matter*  of  thi*  sort 
my  owne  generositie  i$  peer  to  any  mans,  and  hod  it  protfd  r*ce$s<me,  I  *** 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  165  ] 

stoutlie  have  declined  my  C°P*«  gesture.  Howbeit,  Opecancanough  pay*d  no  heed, 
but  him  selfe  taking  the  C^  by  the  arme,  pull'd  him  toward  the  bloodie  tree. 
At  this  juncture,  the  C0**  (who  afterwards  confided  to  me,  he  was  searching  for 
his  Africkan  good-luck  peece)  withdrew  from  his  coat  a  packet  of  little  colour7  d 
cards,  the  w°\  with  seeming  innocence,  he  let  fall  to  the  grvwnd.  The  Salvages 
at  once  became  arows'd,  and  scrabl'd  one  atop  the  other,  to  see  who  SM  retrieve 
the  most.  Upon  examining  them,  they,  found  the  cards  to  portray,  in  vivid  colours, 
Ladies  and  Gentlemen  mother-naked,  partaking  of  sundrie  amorosities  one  with 
another:  in  parties  of  two,  three,  four,  and  even  five,  these  persons  were  shown 
performing  licentious  feats,  the  w°h  to  be  performed  in  actuall  life  wd  want,  in 
addition  to  uncommon  lubricitie,  considerable  imagination  and  no  small  tallent 
for  gymnastick. 

One  can  fancie  with  what  whoops  and  howls  of  glee  the  Salvages  received 
these  works  of  the  pornographers  art,  for  Salvages  are  a  degenerate  race,  little 
rais'd  above  the  beastes  they  hunt,  and  as  such  share  with  white  men  of  the  same 
stamp  a  love  for  all  that  is  filthie  and  salacious.  They  at  least  had  in  their  favour, 
that  they  had  never  before  seen  a  white  woman  cloth'd,  much  less  uncloth'd, 
and  how  much  less  indulging  in  such  anticks  as  were  now  reveal9  d  to  them.  They 
laught  and  shouted,  and  snatch'd  the  cards  from  one  another,  to  see  them  all. 

[They]  ask'd  [Smith],  Whether  he  had  more  [of  the  cards]?  Whereat  he  took 
the  opportunitie  to  draw  from  his  pocket  a  small  compasse,  the  wonder  of  which 
was  (for  I  had  seen  it  before,  to  my  abashment),  that  not  only  did  it  shew  the 
poynts  of  the  compasse,  woh  marvett  alone  wd  methinks  have  suffic'd  to  awe  the 
Salvages  ...  it  dso,  by  virtue  of  tinie  paintings  on  small  peeces  of  glass  mounted 
inside  it,  treated  the  deprav'd  eye  of  him  who  lookt  through  little  peepholes 
in  the  sides,  to  scenes  like  those  of  the  cards,  but  more  real,  /or  that  there  dev- 
ilish creator  had  a  nice  facilitie  of  giving  to  the  scenes  a  sense  of  depth,  so  that 
one  had  the  feeling  (pleasant  to  degenerates)  of  peering  through  a  keyhole, 
to  witness  gentlemen  comporting  themselves  like  stallions,  and  ladies  like  mares 
inrutt,  .  . 

Hawbeit,  the  damnable  device  must  needs  be  held  in  a  certain  manner,  so 
that  its  lenses  caught  the  sun  at  a  proper  angle.  The  Salvages,  and  Opecan* 
canough  in  especially  being  quite  unable  to  master  this  simple  trick,  it  was 
neces$arie  they  preserve  the  wretch  my  C°*t9  life,  in  order,  presumablie,  that  he 
migfit  serve  as  operator  of  there  MayfdT  show  for  ever.  So  arows'd  were  they 
over  there  treasures,  that  maugre  what  I  took  to  be  suggestions  on  my  C****  part, 
that  only  he  was  needed  to  perform  the  miracles  of  the  compasse,  the  Salvages 
took  both  of  us  along  with  them  to  Opecancanoughs  town,  w°h  lay,  we  were 
told,  hard  by  that  of  the  Emperour  .  .  .  entirelie  forgetting,  in  there  vicious 
delight,  to  fill  my  stomacke  with  there  arrowes  .  .  . 

[The  twain  are  carried  to  the  town  of  Opecancanough,  and  thence  to 
Powhatans  town,  and  at  length  into  the  presence  of  the  Emperour  himself.] 


[This  prospect]  appeafd  to  please  my  Cw*  rrdghtilie,  for  he  spoke  of  naught 
besides,  when  indeed  he  deign'd  converse  tyith  me  at  all,  but  how  he  had 
schemd  the  most  efficacious  manner  of  winning  the  Emperours  favour,  as 


[  l66  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

soone  as  ever  he  SM  be  presented  to  that  worthie.  I  ...  warn'd  him,  more,  I 
confess,  toward  the  saving  of  my  owne  skinne,  w**  I  cafd  not  to  loose,  then 
the  saving  of  his,  that  we  were,  for  aught  1  cd  see,  still  mere  prisoners,  and  not 
emissaries  of  the  King,  and  that  as  such,  I,  for  one,  s*tf  be  content  were  I  to  leave 
the  forthcoming  interview  with  my  head  yet  affix'd  to  my  shoulders,  and  my, 
bellie  free  of  arrowes,  without  troubling  farther  about  Emperial  favours  or  barter- 
ing agreements.  My  C°P*  made  me  his  usual!  witless  insults  for  replie.  .  .  . 

On  being  led  into  the  house  of  this  Pawhatan,  my  feares  multiply*d,  for  I 
sweare  he  -was  the  evilkst-appearing  wight  I  hope  to  incounter.  He  seem'd  neare 
sixtie;  the  browne  fleshe  of  him  was  drfd  and  bewinkTd  as  is  the  skinne  of  an 
apple  left  overlong  in  the  sunne,  and  the  loohe  upon  his  face  as  sower,  as  w*  be 
such  an  apple  to  the  tongue.  1  sawe  in  that  face  no  favour  ,  .  .  Hfe  eyes,  more 
then  any  thing,  held  me,  for  despite  a  certaine  hardnesse  in  them,  like  old  flint, 
what  mark'd  them  most,  so  it  seem'd  to  mer  was  an  antick  lecherie,  such  as  one 
remarketh  in  the  eyes  of  profligates  and  other  dissolute  old  persons.  My  O*,  I 
might  $ay,  hath  the  beginning  of  such  eyes,  and  at  sixtie,  it  pleaseth  me  to  think, 
will  quite  resemble  this  Powhatan. 

The  Emperours  surroundings,  moreover,  did  beare  out  my  judgemmt;  in  addi- 
tion to  his  bodie-guard,  a  goodlie  number  of  Salvage  wenches  pottefd 
about  the  roome,  drest  like  Ladle  Eve,  only  flaunting  a  bitt  of  animal-skinne  aver 
that  part,  w°h  the  Mother  ofusatt  was  wont  to  disguise  with  a  peece  of  foliage. 
This  one  fetch'd  her  Lord  a  portion  of  tobacco;  that  one  lem'd  over  him  to  light 
his  pipe  with  a  brand;  this  one  rubb'd  his  backe  with  the  grease  of  bear*,  or  some 
such  mdodouTous  decoction  .  .  .  and  one  &  all  he  rewarded  with  a  smart 
tweake,  or  like  pleasantrie,  the  w**,  at  hi*  advanced  age,  ***  righttie  have  been  to 
him  no  more  than  a  fond  memon'e.  These  the  wenches  forebore  without 
compleynt  ,  .  .  m  sooth  they  seemd  to  vye  for  the  ancient  satyrs  attentions, 
and  performed  there  simple  duties  with  aU  po&ible  voluptuoumesse,  as  if 
therebye  to  rowse  there  King  to  acts  more  fitting  a  mm  my  age,  then  a  dotard 
his  ...  My  C<**  observed  these  maids  with  wondrous  interest,  md  I  sawe 
in  his  eye  more  attention*  then  v*  fay*  been  requir'd  stmplie  to  transfer  the 
scene  to  hi$  trumpeting  Historic.  For  my  selfe,  I  was  too  occupy' d  with  the  mere 
holding  of  my  'water,  w°*  h&inm  is  chore  enougjh  in  such  a  fearsome  pass,  to  ewe 
ivfort  chanrw  the  heathenish  slutt*  offered  there  Emperotav  or  with  what  tewd 
behaviour  he  replfd.  ,  .  . 

...  I  must  mention  here,  that  Pcwhaten  was  mt*d  on  a  sort  of  rw*d  bed- 
stead, and  on  the  floor  before  him  sat  a  retHi*  striking  Salvag*  maid,  of  perhaps 
sixteen  yeare$,  who  from  the  richw&e  of  her  costume  and  the  deference  pay'd 
her  by  the  other  Salvages,  I  took  to  be  the  Queen*.  Throughout  the  banquet 
that  fottcw'd  our  entrie  into  the  house,  this  young  ladie  scarce  took  her  eyed 
from  us,  and  though  unlike  my  O*,  J  am  a  man  not  given  to  fading  him  selfe 
a$  regard*  Afe  come/mm  to  the  faire  sex,  I  can  only  say,  in  woih,  that  what  was 
in  her  eye*  exceeded  that  natural!  curiositie,  w°*  one  might  «ftow  on  #nrt  behd& 
ing  fair-$kinn*d  men.  Powhatan,  I  thinke,  obwrfd  this,  far  his  fa*  gm>  ever 
more  sower  as  t fte  mede  progress*  d>  For  this  reason,  I  avoided  the  Queenes  &&* 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  167] 


assiduouslie,  so  as  not  farther  to  prejudice  our  state.  My.  C^,  for  his  part  .  .  . 
return9  d  her  amourous  glances  with  glances  of  his  owne,  of  such  unmistakeable 
import,  that  had  I  been  the  Emperour  I  had  struck  him  dead  forthwith.  My  poore 
heart  tremblfd  for  the  safetie  of  my  head  .  .  . 

[A  description  followeth  of  the  feast  serv'd  the  two  prisoners.  It  is  a 
Gargantuan  affair,  but  the  Author  is  unable  to  keep  a  morsel  on  his  stomach. 
Smith,  on  the  contrary,  gorgeth  himself  very  like  a  swine  in  the  slaughterhouse.] 


My  Cw*  .  .  .  took  it  on  him  selfe  then  to  make  a  small  speech,  the  gist  of  wch 
(for  I,  too,  comprehended  somewhat  of  the  heathen  gibberish)  was,  that  he  had 
brought  with  him  a  singular  gifte  for  the  Emperour,  but  that,  unluckilie,  it  had 
been  removed  from  his  person  by  the  Emperours  lieutenant  (that  same  infamous 
Opecancanough,  who  was  the  death  of  our  companions  earlier)  .  Powhatan  forth- 
with commanded  Opecancanough  thither,  and  bade  him  produce  the  gifte,  if 
he  had  it.  Albeit  he  was  loath  to  part  with  it,  Opecancanough  fish'd  out  the 
wicked  compass  before  describ'd,  and  gave  it  to  his  Chief,  who  thereupon  caus'd 
his  lieutenant  to  be  birch'  d,  for  that  he  had  intercepted  it.  This  was,  certain,  a 
grosse  injustice,  inasmuch  as  Opecancanough  had  had  no  knowledge  that  the 
compasse  was  meant  for  Powhatan,  as  neither  had  my  Cw*,  what  time  to  save 
his  skinne  he  had  given  the  vile  machine  to  Opecancanough.  Notwithstanding 
w°h,  the  Salvage  was  deliver1  d  out  the  room,  for  birching,  and  I  sawe  no  future 
good  therein  for  us.  .  .  . 

Next  my  Cw*,  to  my  great  astonishment,  commenced  to  shew  to  Powhatan 
the  secrets  of  the  compasse,  directing  its  little  lenses  at  the  fyre  to  light  the 
shamefull  scenes  within.  I  was  certdne  our  end  was  at  hand,  and  ready'  d  my 
selfe  to  dye  as  befitteth  a  Gentleman,  for  surelie  no  man,  not  even  a  Salvage, 
who  hath  the  qualities  to  raise  him  selfe  to  the  post  of  Prince,  even  over  a  nation 
of  benighted  heathen,  cd  but  be  disgusted  by  such  spectacles,  as  now  lay  illu- 
min'd  to  the  Emperours  eyes.  For  the  thousandth  time,  I  curs'  d  my  C"**  for  a 
black  &  arrant  fooL 

Yet  here  I  reckoned  without  the  degeneracie  of  the  Salvage,  whose  bestiall 
fancie  ever  delighteth  in  vilest  things.  So  far  from  taking  umbrage,  Powhatan 
had  like  to  split  his  lecherous  sides  on  beholding  the  little  painting;  he  slapt  his 
knees,  and  slaver'  d  copiouslie  over  his  wrinkfd  lipps.  A  long  time  pass'd  ere  he 
c*  remove  his  eye  from  the  foul  peep-hole,  and  then  only  to  peer  therein  againe, 
and  againe,  each  time  hollowing  with  glee. 

At  length  my  O*  made  it  knowne,  the  Queene,  as  well,  SM  receive  a  gifte, 
At  this  pronouncement,  I  clos'd  my.  eyes  and  made  my  peace  with  God,  for 
knowing  sufficient  by  this  time  of  the  nature  of  my  C™tB  giftes,  and  sensing 
farther  the  jealousie  of  the  Emperour,  I  expected  momentlie  to  feel  the  toma- 
hawke  at  my  neck.  The  Queene,  however,  seemed  greatlie  pleas'd  at  the  pros- 
pect As  I  might  have  guess'  d,  my  O>*  had  reserved  for  her  the  most  impressive 
gifte  of  die.  He  drew  from  his  inexhaustible  pocket  a  smalle  booke  of  sorts,  con- 
structed of  a  number  of  little  pages  bound  fast  at  there  tops  (this  miracle  too  I 
had  seene  at  Jamestowne).  On  everie  page  a  drawing  'was,  of  the  sort  one 
w*  be  loath  to  shew  ones  wife,  each  drawing  alter'd  only  by  a  little  from  his 


[  l68  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

neighbour,  and  the  -whole  in  a  kind  of  sequence,  so  thai ,  $**  one  grasp  the  lewd 
booke  by  the  top,  and  bending  it  slightlie,  attorn  the  pages  to  spring  rapidlie 
each  after  each  before  the  eye,  the  result  was,  that  the  figures  thereon  assumed 
the  semblance  of  life,  in  that  they  mov'd  to  &  fro  about  there  sinfull  business. 
Alas!  The  Queene,  it  grew  cleare,  was  depr&fd  as  was  her  consort.  Over  & 
over  againe,  once  having  learnt  the  virtue  of  the  small  booke,  she  set  the  actors 
therein  to  moving,  each  time  laughing  dlovtd  at  what  she  sawe  .  .  . 

[More  food  is  serv'd,  and  a  sort  of  Indian  liquor,  both  of  w*1*  Smith  takes 
unto  himself  in  quantity.  The  Author  declines,  for  the  same  reasons  as  be- 
fore. The  Queene  appoints  herself  to  wait  on  Smith  personally,  laving  his  hands 
and  fetching  bunches  of  wild-turkey  feathers  wherewith  to  dry  them.] 

The  while  this  second  feasting  was  in  progrem,  I  confriVd  to  tcrewe  up  sufficient 
courage  to  observe  Powhatan,  hoping  to  reade  in  his  face  prognostication  of 
what  was  to  followe.  What  I  sawe  did  not  refresh  my  spirits  .  .  .  The  Emperour 
never  tooke  his  gaze  from  the  Quern*,  who  in  turn,  never  remold  here  from  my 
C**\  with  everie  indecent  promise  in  her  eyes.  She  was  on  everie  side  of  him  at 
once,  fetching  this  &  carrying  that,  all  her  movements  exaggerated,  and  none 
befitting  any  save  a  Drury  Lane  vesioH.  My  O*>  whether  through  his  charao 
terist ick  ignorance,  or,  what  is  more  tikeUe,  in  pursuit  of  wme  twisted  design* 
of  his  owne,  reply* d  to  her  coquetries  in  kind.  None  of  this  ttcap'd  the  Emp*r~ 
our,  'who,  it  seem'd  to  m«,  iwis  scare*  abb  to  put  away  few  gluttonous  repast,  jot 
watching  them.  When  then  thi$  Powhatan  wmmon'd  to  his  couch  three  of  hi* 
evillest-appearing  lieutenants,  all  coafd  &  oyFd  &  bedaub'd  &  brtasseTd 
&  bedizen*d>  and  commenced  with  them  a  long  colloquy  of  heathen  grunts  & 
whisperings,  the  purport  whereof  was  tmtguivocijB,  t  once  a&rin*  commended 
my  soule  to  Cods  mercie,  for  I  looKd  to  m#*t  him  sftortiii  fax  to  face.  My  O* 
pay'd  no  heede,  but  wnt  on  blindli*  with  hi*  tport. 

My  ...  feares,  it  was  Boon  pmfd,  were  }u$tify*d<  Th*  Emptrour  made  a 
signall,  and  the  three  great  Sdvag**  lay'd  hold  of  my  O',  Despite  his  protest* 
tiow,  the  w**  were  lowd  enow,  he  was  cany*d  up  to  Powfortoi*  couch,  and  there 
forced  to  hi$  knees.  The  Salvages  lay*d  his  hu*d  upon  a  poire  of  gnat*  afcm«*>  put 
there  for  the  purpose,  and  catching  up  time  ugli*  ww^faifefej,  had  b*at*  out  what 
mdte  brdrm  my  C<#*  migfit  make  claim  to,  were  it  not  that  at  thi$  juncture,  the 
Qu&ew  her  setfe>  to  my  astonishment,  interceded.  Running  to  the  dtar,  the 
flung  her  wife  bodUie  upon  my  C***f  and  decbtfd  to  Powhatan,  that  rethxr  W*  she 
loose  her  owne  head,  then  that  they  $**  dash  in  fe&  Were  I  theEmperovrJowne 
I  $M  have  done  the  twain  to  d&zth,  for  that  so  cfaxre  an  alliance  c*  lead  but  to 
adultme  ere  long.  But  Powhatan  stey'd  his  fcuflw;  the  anemblie  was  dimist* 
saving  only  the  Emperour,  his  Queene,  my  O*,  &  my  self*  ( who  aU  9eem*d  to 
have  forgot,  thank  God) ,  and  for  the  nonce,  it  ettx&^myhtartw*  go  on  bett- 
ing in  my  breast.  ,  ,  . 

[Th*re  folhw'q  a  speech  by  the  Empewur,  w**,  a  best  I  grtap'd  it,  m*  w*> 
ww&  as  it  vm  improper.  Some  I  grant  ew&d  me,  for  that  Powhxtm  spake 
wth  great  rapiditi*  and  chetfd  Ms  word«$  witfcdL  Bui  the  minim  of  wlwrf  I 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  169  ] 

gather'd  -was,  that  the  Queene  was  not  his  Queene  at  all,  neither  one  amongst 
his  concubines  (whereof  he  kept  a  goodlie  number),  but  his  daughter,  her  name 
being  Pocahontas.  By  this  name  is  signify'd,  in  there  tongue,  the  smalle  one,  or 
she  of  the  smallnesse  and  impenetrabilitie,  and  this,  it  seem'd,  referr'd  not  to 
the  maidens  stature,  wch  was  in  sooth  but  slight,  nor  to  her  mind,  wch  one  c* 
penetrate  with  passing  ease.  Rather  it  reflected,  albeit  grosslie,  a  singular  physi- 
cked short-coming  in  the  childe9  to  witt:  her  prMtie  was  that  nice,  and  the 
tympanum  therein  so  surpassing  stout,  as  to  render  it  infrangible.  This  fact 
greatlie  disturb' d  the  Emperour,  for  that  in  his  nation  the  barbarous  custom  was 
practiced,  that  whensoever  a  maid  be  affianc'd,  the  Salvage,  who  wisheth  to  wed 
her,  must  needs  first  fracture  that  same  membrane,  whereupon  the  suitor  is 
adjudg'd  a  man  worthie  of  his  betrothed,  and  the  nuptialls  followe.  Now  Powha- 
tan,  we  were  told,  had  on  sundrie  occasions  chosen  warriors  of  his  people  to  wedd 
this  Pocahontas,  but  in  everie  instance  the  ceremonie  had  to  be  foregone,  seeing 
that  labour  as  they  might,  none  had  been  able  to  deflowr  her,  and  in  sooth  the 
most  had  done  them  selves  hurt  withal,  in  there  efforts;  whereas,  the  proper  thing 
was,  to  injure  the  young  lasse,  and  that  as  grievouslie  as  possible,  the  degree  of 
injurie  being  reck'd  a  measure  of  the  mans  virilitie.  Inasmuch  as  the  Salvages  are 
wont  to  marrie  off  there  daughters  neare  twelve  yeares  of  age,  it  was  deem'd  a 
disgraceful!  thing,  the  Emperour  shd  have  a  daughter  sbcteene,  who  was  yet  a 
maide. 

Continuing  this  discourse,  [Powhatan]  said,  that  whereas  his  daughter  had 
seen  fitt,  to  save  my  Cwt8  life,  what  time  it  had  been  the  Emperours  pleasure  to 
dashe  out  his  braines,  then  my.  C0**  must  needs  regard  him  selfe  affianc'd  to  her, 
and  submit  him  selfe  to  that  same  labour  (to  witt,  essaying  the  gate  to  Venus 
grottoe)  as  her  former  suitors.  But .  .  .  with  this  difference,  that  where,  having 
faiVd,  her  Salvage  beaux  had  merelie  been  disgrac'd,  and  taunted  as  olde  women, 
my  C***,  shd  he  prove  no  better,  his  head  w*  be  lay'd  againe  upon  the  stones, 
and  the  clubbing  of  his  braines  proceed  without  quarter  or  respite. 

Att  this  Pocahontas  heard  with  greate  joye,  maugre  its  nature,  w071  wd  have 
mortify' d  an  English  ladie;  and  my  OP*,  too,  accepted  readilie  (in  sooth  he  had 
no  option  in  the  matter) .  For  my  part,  I  was  pleas' d  to  gaine  reprieve  once  more 
from  the  butchers  block,  albeit  a  briefe  one,  for  I  could  not  see,  since  that  the 
Salvages  were  of  large  stature,  and  my  Ca**  so  slight  of  build,  how  that  he  s*4 
triumph  where  they  had  fail'd,  unlesse  there  were  some  wondrous  disproportion, 
in  both  cases,  betwixt  the  size  of  what  in  each  was  visible,  and  what  conceal' d, 
to  the  casuall  eye.  My  fate,  it  seem'd,  hung  on  my  C°**%  and  for  that  I  bade 
him  Godspeed,  preferring  to  heare  for  ever  his  endlesse  boasting  (w°n  wd  surelie 
followe  his  successe),  then  to  wettwith  my  braines  the  Salvage  clubbs,  woh  fate 
awaited  me  upon  his  failure.  The  carnall  joust  was  set  for  sunup,  in  the  publick 
yard  of  sorts,  that  fronted  the  Emperours  house,  and  the  entire  towne  was 
order' d  to  be  present.  This  alone,  I  wot,  w*  have  sufjjic'd  to  unstarch  an  ordinarie 
man,  my  selfe  included,  who  am  wont  to  worshipp  Venus  (after  my  fashion) 
in  the  privacie  of  darken9 d  couches;  but  my  C0**  appeared  not  a  whitt  ruffl'd,  and 
in  sooth  seem'd  eager  to  make  his  essaye  publicklie.  This,  I  take  it,  is  apt  meas- 
ure of  his  swinishnesse,  for  that  whenas  a  gentleman  is  forc'd,  against  his  witt, 


[  170  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

to  some  abominable  worke,  he  wiU  dispatch  it  with  as  much  expedition,  and  as 
little  noticer  as  he  can,  -whereas  the  rake  &  foole  will  noise  the  matter  about, 
drawing  the  eyes  of  the  world  to  his  follie  &  license,  and  is  never  more  content, 
then  when  he  hath  an  audience  to  his  mischief.  .  .  . 

[Here  endeth  the  existing  portion  of  the  journal] 

"  'Dslife,  what  a  place  to  end  itf "  Ebenezer  cried  when  he  had  finished 
the  manuscript,  and  hurried  to  find  Burlingame.  "Was  there  no  more, 
Henry?" 

"Not  another  word,  I  swear't,  for  1  combed  the  town  to  find  the  rest." 

"But  marry,  one  must  know  how  matters  went— whether  this  hateful 
Smith  made  good  his  boasts,  or  thy  poor  ancestor  lost  his  life." 

"Ah  well/1  Burlingame  replied,  "this  modi  we  know,  that  both  escaped, 
for  Smith  went  on  that  same  year  to  explore  the  Chesapeake,  and  Burling- 
game  at  least  set  down  this  narrative.  What's  more,  if  I  be  not  a  bastard 
he  must  needs  have  got  himself  a  wife  in  later  years,  for  none  is  mentioned 
here.  I'God,  Eben,  I  cannot  tell  you  how  I  yearn  to  know  the  rest!" 

"And  I,"  laughed  Ebenezer,  "for  though  belike  she  was  no  poet,  this 
Pocahontas  was  twice  the  virgin  I  am!" 

To  Ebenezefs  surprise,  Buriingame  blushed  deeply,  That  is  not  what 
I  meant" 

"I  know  full  well  you  didn't;  'tis  your  ancestry  concerns  you,  Yet  'tis 
no  vulgar  curiosity,  this  other:  the  fall  of  viigins  always  is  instructive,  nor 
doth  the  world  e'er  weary  of  the  tale.  And  the  harder  the  fell,  the  better." 

"Indeed?''  Burlingame  smiled,  regaining  his  composure.  **A»d  prithee 
tell  me,  What  lesson  doth  it  teach?" 

"'Tis  odd  that  I  should  be  the  teacher  and  you  the  pupil,"  Ebenezer 
said,  "yet  I  will  own  'tis  a  subject  dose  to  my  heart,  and  one  to  which 
I've  given  no  small  attention.  My  conclusion  is,  that  mankind  sees  two 
morals  in  such  tales:  the  fall  of  innocence,  or  the  fall  of  pride.  The  first 
sort  hath  its  archetype  in  Adam;  the  second  in  Satan.  The  first  alone  hath 
not  the  sting  of  tragedy,  as  hath  the  second:  the  virgin  pure  and  simple, 
like  Pocahontas,  is  neither  good  nor  vicious  for  her  hymen;  she  is  only 
envied,  as  is  Adam,  by  the  fallen.  They  secretly  rejoice  to  sec  her  ravaged, 
as  poor  men  smile  to  see  a  rich  man  robbed-e'en  the  virtuous  fallen  can 
feel  for  her  no  more  than  abstract  pity.  The  second  is  the  very  stuff  of 
drama,  for  the  proud  man  oft  excites  our  admiration;  we  live,  as*t  were, 
by  proxy  in  his  triumphs,  and  are  cleansed  and  taught  by  pnwy  in  his  fall. 
When  we  heap  obloquy  on  Satan,  is't  not  ouiadves  we  scold,  for  that  we 
secretly  admire  his  Heavenly  insurrection?** 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  lyi  ] 

"That  all  seems  sound,"  said  Burlingame.  "It  follows,  doth  it  not,  that 
when  you  profess  abhorrence  for  the  Captain,  thou'rt  but  chastising  your- 
self in  like  manner,  or  that  part  of  you  that  wisheth  him  success?" 

"  Tis  unequivocally  the  case,"  Ebenezer  agreed,  "whene'er  the  critic's 
of  the  number  of  the  fallen.  For  myself,  'twere  as  if  a  maid  should  cheer 
her  ravisher,  or  my  Lord  Baltimore  support  John  Coode." 

"I  think  that  neither  is  impossible,  but  let  it  go.  I  will  say  now,  friend 
Poet,  thine  own  fall,  when  it  comes,  must  needs  be  glorious,  inasmuch  as 
thou'rt  both  innocent  and  proud." 

"Wherein  lies  my  pride?"  asked  Ebenezer,,  clearly  disconcerted  by  his 
friend's  observation. 

"In  thy  very  innocence,  which  you  raise  above  mere  circumstance  and 
make  a  special  virtue.  Tis  a  Christian  reverence  you  bear  it,  I  swear!" 

"Christian  in  a  sense/'  Ebenezer  replied,  "albeit  your  Christians— St. 
Paul  excepted— pay  scant  reverence  to  chastity  in  men.  Tis  valued  as  a 
sign— nay,  a  double  sign,  for't  harketh  back  alike  to  Eve  and  Mary.  Therein 
lies  its  difference  from  the  cardinal  virtues,  which  refer  to  naught  beyond 
themselves:  adultery's  a  mortal  sin,  proscribed  by  God's  commandment 
—not  so  fornication,  I  believe." 

"Then  virginity's  a  secondary  virtue,  is't  not,  and  less  to  be  admired  than 
faithfulness?  I  think  not  even  More  would  gainsay  that." 

"But  recall,"  Ebenezer  insisted,  "I  said  'twas  only  in  a  sense  I  share  the 
Christians'  feeling.  Methinks  that  mankind's  virtues  are  of  two  main 
sorts " 

"Aye,  that  we  learn  in  school,"  said  Burlingame,  who  seemed  prepared 
to  end  the  colloquy.  "Instrumental  if  they  lead  us  to  some  end,  and 
terminal  if  we  love  them  in  themselves.  Tis  schoolmen's  cant" 

"Nay,"  said  Ebenezer,  "that  is  not  what  I  meant;  those  terms  bear  little 
meaning  to  the  Christian,  I  believe,  who  on  the  one  hand  hopes  by  all 
his  virtues  to  reach  Heaven,  and  yet  will  swear  that  virtue  is  its  own  reward. 
What  I  meant  was,  that  sundry  virtues  are— I  might  say  plain,  for  want 
of  proper  language,,  and  some  significant.  Among  the  first  are  honesty  in 
speech  and  deed,  fidelity,  respect  for  mother  and  father,  charity,  and  the 
like;  the  second  head's  comprised  of  things  like  eating  fish  on  Friday,  resting 
on  the  Sabbath,  and  coming  virgin  to  the  grave  or  marriage  bed,  whiche'er 
the  case  may  be;  they  all  mean  naught  when  taken  by  themselves,  like  the 
strokes  and  scribbles  we  call  writing— their  virtue  lies  in  what  they  stand 
for.  Now  the  first,  whether  so  designed  or  not,  are  matters  of  public  policy, 
and  thus  apply  to  prudent  men,  be  they  heathens  or  believers.  The  second 


[  1J2  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

have  small  relevance  to  prudence,  being  but  signs,  and  differ  from  faith  to 
faith.  The  first  are  social,  the  second  religious;  the  first  are  guides  for  life, 
the  second  forms  of  ceremony;  the  first  practical,  the  second  mysterious 
or  poetic " 

"I  grasp  the  principle,"  Burlingame  said. 

"Well  then/'  Ebenezer  declared,  "it  follows  that  this  second  sort  are 
purer,  after  a  fashion,  and  in  this  way  not  inferior  at  all,  but  the  reverse." 

"La,  you  have  the  heart  of  a  Scholastic,"  Burlingame  said  disgustedly. 
"I  see  no  purity  in  'em,  save  that  all  the  sense  is  filtered  out— the  residue 
is  nonsense/' 

"As  you  wish,  Henry— I  do  not  mean  to  argue  Christianity  but  only  my 
virginity,  which  if  senseless  is  to  me  not  therefore  nonsense,  but  essence. 
Tis  but  a  sign  as  with  the  Christians,  that  I  grant,  yet  it  pointeth  not  to 
Eden  or  to  Bethlehem,  but  to  my  soul  !  prize  it  not  as  a  virtue,  but  as 
the  very  emblem  of  my  self,  and  when  I  call  me  virgin  and  poet  'tis  not 
more  boast  than  who  should  say  I'm  male  and  English.  Prithee  chide  me 
no  more  on't,  and  let  us  end  this  discourse  that  pleaseth  you  so  little/* 

"Nonetheless/'  Burlingame  declared,  "  'twill  be  a  fall  worth  watching 
when  you  stumble/' 

"I  do  not  mean  to  fall/' 

Burlingame  shrugged.  "What  climber  doth?  Tis  but  the  more  likely  in 
your  case,  for  that  you  travel  as't  were  asleep— thy  friend  McEvoy  was  no 
dullard  there,  albeit  a  callous  fellow.  Yet  haply  the  fell  will  open  your  eyes/' 

"I  would  have  thought  thee  more  my  friend,  Henry,  but  on  this  head 
thou'rt  brusque  as  erst  in  London,  when  I  went  with  Anna  to  St.  Giles. 
Have  you  forgot  that  day  in  Cambridge,  the  pass  wherein  you  found  me? 
Or  that  malady  whereof  I  spoke  but  yesterday,  that  1  was  wont  to  suffer 
in  the  winehouse?  Think  you  I'd  not  rejoice,"  he  went  on,  growing  more 
aroused,  "to  be  in  sooth  a  climber,  that  stumbling  would  move  men  to 
fear  and  pity?  I  do  not  dimb,  but  merely  walk  a  road,  and  stumbling 
ne'er  shall  fall  a  mighty  fall,  but  only  cease  to  walk,  or  drift  a  wayless  ship 
on  every  current,  or  haply  just  moss  over  like  a  stone.  I  see  nor  spectacle 
new  instruction  in  such  a  fall" 

Buriingame  made  no  more  of  the  matter  and  apologized  to  Ebenezer 
for  bis  curtness.  Nonetheless  he  remained  out  of  sorts,  as  did  the  poet, 
for  some  hours  afterwards,  and  in  fact  it  was  not  until  a  short  time  before 
they  arrived  in  Plymouth  that  they  entirely  regained  their  spirits,  and 
Burlingame,  at  Ebenezer's  request,  took  up  again  the  tale  of  his  adventures, 
wBch  he'd  left  at  his  discovery  of  the  fragmentary  joqmal* 


7:    BURLINGAME'S  TALE  CONCLUDED,  AND  THE 
TRAVELERS  ARRIVE  AT  PLYMOUTH 


"THAT  PORTION  OF  THE  PRIVIE  JOURNALL  THAT  YOU  READ/'  SAID 
Burlingame,  "so  far  from  cooling  the  ardor  of  my  quest,  did  but  enflame  it 
the  more,  as  you  might  imagine,  inasmuch  as  it  said  There  was  a  Henry 
Burlingame,  yet  told  me  neither  that  he  e'er  had  progeny,  nor  that  among 
his  children  was  my  father.  There  was  one  ground  for  hope  and  speculation: 
namely,  that  Captain  John  Smith  set  out  that  very  summer  to  explore  the 
Chesapeake,  wherein  near  half  a  century  later  I  was  found  floating.  Yet  no- 
where in  his  Historie  doth  he  mention  Burlingame,  nor  is  that  poor  wight 
listed  with  the  party.  I  searched  the  ancient  papers  of  the  colony  arid 
asked  the  length  and  breadth  of  Jamestown,  but  no  word  more  could  I 
find  on  the  matter.  I  made  bold  to  enquire  of  Nicholson  himself  whether 
he  knew  aught  of  other  records  in  the  Dominion.  And  he  replied  he  had 
been  there  so  short  time  he  scarce  knew  where  the  privy  was,  but  added, 
there  was  a  grievous  dearth  of  paper  in  the  provinces,  and  'twas  no  uncom- 
mon thing  for  officers  of  the  government  to  ransack  older  record?  for  paper 
writ  on  but  the  recto,  to  the  end  they  might  employ  the  verso  for  themselves. 
He  himself  deplored  this  practice,  for  he  is  a  man  devoted  to  the  cause  of 
learning,  but  he  said  there  was  no  cure  for't  till  the  provinces  erected  their 
own  paper  mills. 

"It  seemed  to  me  quite  likely  my  Journatt  had  suffered  this  fate,  inasmuch 
as  'twas  writ  on  a  good  grade  of  English  paper,  and  the  author  had  employed 
the  recto  only,  I  despaired  of  e'er  discovering  the  rest,  and  in  the  fall  of  1690 
went  with  Captain  Hill  to  London.  Our  intention  was  to  litigate  to  clear 
the  charges  of  seditious  speech  against  him,  and  if  possible  to  undo  Colonel 
Coode  and  his  companions.  The  moment  was  propitious,  for  Coode 
himself  and  Kenelm  Cheseldyne,  his  speaker,  had  also  sailed  for  London 
and  would  not  have  their  bullies  to  defend  'em.  I  so  arranged  matters  that 
a  number  of  his  enemies  appeared  in  England  that  same  season,  and  I 
thought  that  if  we  filed  a  host  of  depositions  against  him,  we  could  thereby 
either  work  his  ruin  or  at  least  detain  him  whilst  we  plotted  farther.  To 
this  end  I  made  a  secret  trip  to  Maryland  ere  we  sailed,  with  the  design  of 
slipping  privily  into  St.  Mary's  City  and  stealing  the  criminal  records  of 


[  174  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

Coode's  courts,  or  bribing  them  stolen,  for  no  clearer  proof  could  be  of  his 
corruption.  Howbeit,  the  man  anticipated  my  plan,  as  oft  he  doth:  I 
learned  that  he  and  Cheseldyne  had  carried  off  the  records  with  fem. 

"In  any  case  we  set  our  plot  in  motion.  No  sooner  did  we  dock  at  London 
in  November  than  the  Lords  Commissioners  of  Trade  and  Plantations  sub- 
poenaed Coode  to  confront  Lord  Baltimore  before  them,  to  answer  that 
worthy's  charges  against  him.  At  the  same  time  Colonel  Henry  Coursey,  of 
Kent  County,  petitioned  against  Coode  and  Cheseldyne,  as  did  John 
Lillingstone,  the  rector  of  St  Paul's  Parish  in  Talbot  County,  and  ten 
other  souls,  all  known  Protestants— for  'twas  Coode's  chief  defense  for  his 
rebellion  that  he  was  putting  down  the  barbarous  Papists,  as  he  sworn  him- 
self in  writing  at  the  time.  Finally  Hill  made  his  own  petition,  and  even  our 
friend  Captain  Burford  of  the  Abraham  &  Fnmeig,  who  had  helped  us  flee 
to  Nicholson  and  whose  ship  the  rogues  had  lately  crossed  on,  deposed  in 
Plymouth  that  Coode  had  in  his  presence  damned  Lord  Baltimore  and 
vowed  to  spend  the  revenues  embezzled  from  the  Piovince, 

"For  a  time  it  seemed  we  had  him  dead  to  rights,  but  he  is  a  damned 
resourceful  devil  and  had  a  perfect  shield  for  our  assaults.  The  year  before, 
just  prior  to  the  rebellion,  a  wight  named  John  Payne,  who  collected  His 
Majesty's  customs  on  the  Patuxent  River,  had  been  shot  to  death  either 
aboard  or  near  a  pleasure-sloop  belonging  to  Major  Nicholas  Sewall,  and 
Coode  had  rigged  a  charge  of  willful  murther  against  Sewall  and  four  ethos 
on  the  sloop.  Nick  Sewall  was  Deputy  Governor  of  Maryland  before  the 
rebellion,  but  more  than  that  he  is  Charles  Calverf  s  nephew,  the  son  of 
Lady  Baltimore  herself.  The  rebels  had  him  hostage  in  St,  Maiy's,  and  at 
any  time  could  turn  him  over  to  the  court  of  Neamiah  Blackistone,  Coodc's 
crony,  who  would  hang  him  certain.  Thus  our  hands  woe  tied  and  our 
plot  squelched,  the  more  for  that  we  had  not  the  criminal  recoitls  for  evi- 
dence. The  Lords  Commissioners  cleared  Captain  Hill  in  December,  and 
Colonel  Heniy  Damall  too,  Lord  Baltimore's  agent,  who'd  been  charged 
with  treasonable  speech  and  inciting  the  Choptico  Indians  to  slaughter 
Protestants  on  the  Eastern  Shore;  but  Coode  they  could  not  touch,  or  haply 
would  not,  at  Lord  Baltimore's  behest,  The  confrontation  came  to  naught, 
and  Coode  made  meny  with  the  whores  of  London,  on  money  swindled 
from  the  King  himself* 

"I  saw  no  farther  usefulness  for  myself  with  Captain  Hfll;  he  was  free  to 
go  back  to  the  Severn,  and  had  no  moie  taste  for  politics.  But  my  inteiest  in 
John  Coode  had  near  replaced  my  forme*  quest,  which  seemed  a  cuWwac; 
the  man  intrigued  me  with  his  cunning  and  his  boldness,  his  shifting  roles 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  175 \] 

as  minister  and  priest,  and  most  of  all  his  motives:  he  seemed  to  have  no 
wish  for  office,  and  held  no  post  save  in  the  St.  Mary's  County  militia;  he 
plundered  more  for  sport  than  avarice,  and  would  risk  all  to  make  a  clever 
move.  The  fellow  loved  intrigue  itself,  I  swear,  and  would  unseat  a  governor 
for  amusement!  At  length  I  vowed  to  match  my  wits  with  his,  and  to  that 
end  offered  my  services  to  Lord  Baltimore  as  a  sort  of  agent-at-large  in  the 
Maryland  business.  The  Lords  Commissioners  of  Trade  and  Plantations 
were  kindly  disposed  towards  Baltimore  at  this  time,  for  they  knew  full  well 
John  Coode  was  a  rascal  and  King  William  had  no  more  right  than  you  or  I 
to  seize  the  Province;  yet  they  could  do  naught  to  stop  'em.  Therefore 
when  time  had  come  to  name  a  royal  governor,  they  gave  milord  some  say 
in  his  selection,  and  he  picked  the  great  dunderhead  Sir  Lionel  Copley, 
who  could  not  tell  a  knave  from  a  saint.  Now  I  had  caught  a  rumor  that 
Coode  was  privy  to  the  Governor's  ear,  and  for  simple  spite  had  told  him 
that  Francis  Nicholson  of  Virginia  was  being  groomed  to  take  his  place, 
ere  Copley  had  e'en  left  London.  He  said  this,  I  was  certain,  merely  to  cause 
friction  'twixt  the  governors,  for  he  had  no  love  for  Nicholson  and  wanted 
a  weak  executive  in  Maryland  who  would  leave  his  own  hands  free.  This 
strategy  of  his  gave  me  my  own,  which  was  to  suggest  to  Baltimore  that  he 
should  in  fact  have  Nicholson  commissioned  lieutenant  governor  of 
Maryland,  since  word  had  it  he  was  to  be  replaced  in  Jamestown  by  none 
other  than  Sir  Edmund  Andros  himself;  and  farther,  that  he  should  then 
name  Andros  commander-in-chief  of  the  Province,  with  power  to  take  com- 
mand in  the  event  of  Nicholson's  death  and  Copley's  absence.  Twas  a 
fantastical  arrangement,  inasmuch  as  Copley  mistrusted  Nicholson,  Nich- 
olson disliked  Andros  (who  had  erst  been  his  superior  in  New  England), 
and  Coode  loathed  'em  all!  My  object  was,  to  so  mismatch  them  that  their 
rule  would  be  a  farce,  to  the  end  that  haply  someday  William  might  return 
the  reins  of  government  to  Baltimore. 

"Milord  approved  the  plan,  once  I  had  explained  it,  and,  seeing  farther  I 
had  the  confidence  both  of  Andros  and  of  Nicholson,  he  gave  me  the  post 
I  wished,  with  one  stipulation  only,  that  it  be  confidential.  Nicholson  and 
Andros  were  commissioned  by  March  of  1692,  and  the  instant  Coode  heard 
it  he  took  fright:  he  well  knew  Copley  was  too  thick  to  see  the  evidence  of 
his  mischief  and  too  weak  to  harm  him  if  he  saw't,  and  Andros  would  have 
work  enough  in  Virginia  to  absorb  him;  but  Nicholson's  neither  dull  nor 
weak  and  knew  Coode  already  for  a  rascal.  Posthaste  he  wrote  instructions 
to  an  agent  in  St.  Mary's,  to  steal  the  Journal  of  the  1691  Assembly  and 
destroy  it,  for  there  was  writ  the  full  tale  of  his  government  for  all  to  see.  I 


[  Ij6  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

heard  from  friends  one  Benjamin  Ricaud  had  joined  the  fleet,  and  knowing 
him  as  Coode's  messenger,  straightway  set  out  after.  Twas  my  good  luck  he 
boarded  the  ship  Bailey>  for  her  master,  Peregrine  Browne  of  Cecil  County, 
was  a  friend  of  Hill's  and  Baltimore's,  and  I  knew  him  well.  Moreover,  a 
number  of  our  men  were  there  as  well;  Colonel  Coursey,  John  Lillingstone 
the  minister,  and  others.  Between  us  we  contrived  to  search  Ricaud's  effects 
and  intercept  the  letter,  which  I  passed  along  to  Baltimore. 

"I  resolved  at  once  to  sail  for  Maryland  and  prevailed  on  Baltimore  to 
let  me  go  on  the  very  ship  with  Copley.  We  had  one  powerful  ally  in  the 
government,  Sir  Thomas  Lawrence,  who  as  His  Majesty's  Secretary  to  the 
Province  had  access  to  every  stamp  and  paper.  Twas  my  design  to  have 
him  steal  the  Assembly  Journal  ere  it  was  destroyed  and  smuggle  it  to 
Nicholson,  who  would  in  turn  then  fetch  it  here  to  London  for  our  use.  I 
was  the  more  eager  to  lay  hands  on*t,  for  that  in  that  document  my  separate 
goals  seemed  fused:  the  search  for  my  father  and  the  search  for  ways  to  put 
down  Coode  were  now  the  selfsame  search!" 

"How  is  that?"  asked  Ebenezer,  who  had  heard  the  foregoing  in  wordless 
amazement.  "I  do  not  grasp  your  meaning  in  the  least/* 

"  Twas  that  note  we  intercepted,"  Burlingame  replied.  "We  did  not 
know  its  import  at  first  sight,  for't  said  no  mow  than  Afcington:  Such  smutt 
as  Cttpt  John  Smiths  book  were  best  fed  to  the  fire.  'Abington*  we  knew 
was  Andrew  Abington,  a  fellow  in  St.  Mary's  that  Coodc  had  given  the 
post  of  Collector  for  the  Patuxent  after  John  Payne's  murther;  but  we 
could  not  comprehend  the  rest.  At  length  I  bribed  Racaud  outright,  who 
was  a  shifty  fellow,  and  he  told  us  'John  Smiths  Book'  signified  the  Journal 
of  the  1691  Assembly,  for  that  'twas  writ  on  the  back  of  an  old  manuscript 
of  some  sort.  For  aught  I  knew  it  might  be  but  a  draft  of  the  Hfetorif  I'd 
read  in  print,  but  nonetheless  I  could  scarce  contain  my  joy  at  hearing  of  it 
and  prayed  it  might  make  mention  of  my  namesake.  Nor  was  this  the  end 
of  my  good  fortune,  for  the  note  itself  was  writ  on  aged  paper,  not  unlike 
that  of  the  Privie  JourncOl  in  Jamestown,  and  I  learned  from  Ricaud  that 
Coode  had  traveled  often  in  Virginia  and  had  kin  that,  and  that  after  the 
rebellion  he'd  given  Cheseldyne  and  Blackistone  a  batch  of  old  papeis 
filched  from  Jamestown  to  use  in  the  Assembly  and  the  St  Mary's  court. 
For  aught  I  knew,  the  rest  of  the  Prim  Joumtll  might  be  filed  somewhere 
in  Maryland! 

"As  soon  as  I  arrived  in  St.  Mary's  City  I  made  myself  known  to  Sir 
Thomas  Lawrence  and  laid  open  Lord  Baltimore's  strategy.  He  was  to  steal 
the  Assembly  Journal  and  pass  it  on  to  Nicholson,  who  wodd  find  accuse 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  177  ] 

at  once  to  visit  London.  In  addition  I  meant  to  discredit  as  many  as  possible 
of  Coode's  associates,  and  to  that  end  persuaded  Lawrence  to  lure  them 
into  corruption.  Colonel  Henry  Jowles,  for  instance,,  was  a  member  of  the 
Governor's  Council  and  a  colonel  of  milita:  we  made  it  easy  for  him  to 
line  his  pockets  with  illegal  fees  as  clerk  of  Calvert  County.  Baltimore's 
friend  Charles  Carroll,  a  Papist  lawyer  in  St.  Mary's,  did  the  same  with 
Neamiah  Blackistone,  Coode's  own  brother-in-law,  that  was  president  of 
the  Council  and  Copley's  right-hand  man.  And  the  grandest  gadfly  of  'em 
all  was  Edward  Randolph,  His  Majesty's  Royal  Surveyor,  who  loved  to  bait 
and  slander  popr  old  Copley,  and  spoke  openly  in  favor  of  King  James. 
Finally  we  terrified  the  lot  of  'em  with  stories  that  the  French  and  the 
Naked  Indians  of  Canada  were  making  ready  for  a  general  slaughter.  In 
June,  not  a  month  after  we  landed,  Copley  was  already  complaining  of 
Randolph  to  the  Lords  Commissioners  of  Trade  and  Plantations;  in  July 
Lawrence  filched  the  Journal,  but  Nicholson  whisked  it  off  to  London  ere 
I  could  lay  eyes  upon  it.  In  October  we  exposed  Colonel  Jowles,  who  was 
turned  out  as  colonel,  councilman,  and  clerk.  In  December  Copley  again 
complained  of  Randolph,  and  swore  to  the  Lords  Commissioners,  along 
with  Blackistone,  that  Nicholson  was  on  some  sinister  errand  in  London — 
which  letter  greatly  pleased  us,  for  we  meant  to  use  it  to  advantage  when 
Nicholson  himself  was  governor. 

"Thus  we  harassed  old  Copley,  who  scarce  knew  what  was  happening 
till  the  following  February,  when  the  Lords  Commissioners  charged 
Blackistone  with  graft.  Then,  too  late,  he  saw  our  plot,  and  in  the  spring 
of  last  year  arrested  Carroll,  Sir  Thomas  himself,  Edward  Randolph,  and  a 
host  of  others,  among  whom  was  Peter  Sayer  of  Talbot,  the  man  I  was 
disguised  as  in  Ben  Bragg's  bookshop.  Sir  Thomas  was  jailed,  as  was  Carroll, 
and  impeached  into  the  bargain;  Randolph  was  arrested  on  the  Eastern 
Shore  of  Virginia  by  the  Somerset  County  sheriff,  but  ere  he  could  get  him 
out  of  Accomac  I  sent  word  oft  to  Edmund  Andros  in  Williamsburg,  who'd 
been  a  drinking-friend  of  Randolph's  since  the  old  days  in  Boston,  and 
Andros  fetched  him  home  for  safety." 

"E'en  so,  thy  cause  was  damaged,  was  it  not?"  asked  Ebenezer. 

"My  cause?"  Burlingame  smiled.  "  'Tis  thine  as  well,  is't  not,  since  we 
work  for  the  same  employer?  Let  us  say  instead  our  cause  was  discommoded 
for  a  time;  we  knew  well  old  Copley  couldn't  hold  such  men  for  long,  but 
we  wanted  them  out  of  prison,  not  alone  for  their  own  comfort  but  for  fear 
John  Coode  might  turn  up  in  their  absence  and  gain  ground  with  Copley. 
As't  happened  our  fears  were  empty,  for  both  the  Governor  and  his  wife 


[  178  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

died  in  September— methinks  they  ne'er  acclimatized  to  Maryland,  His 

death  suggested  to  me  a  wondrous  mischief " 

"Great  heavens,  Henry,  thou'rt  a  plotting  Coode  thyself!" 
"You  recall  I  said  Lord  Baltimore  had  made  Andros  commander-in-chief 
of  the  Province,  merely  to  play  on  the  jealousy  'twixt  him  and  Nicholson, 
and  his  commission  gave  him  full  authority  in  the  event  of  Nicholson's 
death  and  Copley's  absence.  It  struck  me  now  that  albeit  'twas  Copley 
dead  and  Nicholson  absent,  I  could  work  a  grand  confusion  anyhow,  and 
so  I  went  posthaste  to  Williamsburg  to  take  the  news  to  Andros  and 
persuade  him  his  commission  was  in  force.  He  was  inclined  to  doubt  it, 
but  he  knew  me  for  an  agent  of  Lord  Baltimore,  and  loved  to  exercise  his 
power  besides.  What's  more,  though  he  made  no  mention  oft,  he  was  not 
averse  to  stealing  Nicholson's  thunder,  as't  were,  by  rescuing  law  and  order 
in  Maryland,  for  he  himself  had  felt  the  pricks  of  following  Nicholson  in 
Virginia.  To  be  brief,  he  marched  into  St.  Mary's  City,  demanded  the 
government  of  Maryland,  dissolved  the  Assembly,  suspended  Rlackistone, 
turned  Lawrence  loose,  and  took  him  with  his  party  back  to  Williamsburg, 
leaving  the  Province  in  the  charge  of  an  amiable  nobody  named  Green- 
berry,  Twas  his  design  to  return  again  this  spring,  when  the  business  was 
cooled,  and  make  Lawrence  president  of  the  Council,  but  whether  he  hath 
done  it  I've  yet  to  learn, 

"I  could  see  no  immediate  employment  for  myself  in  Hie  Province  after 
this,  and  so  I  crossed  come  January  here  to  London,  both  to  wait  farther 
orders  from  Lord  Baltimore  and  to  search  out  the  Assembly  Journal  I  ar- 
rived not  two  weeks  past,  and  learned  to  my  dismay  that  neither  Nicholson 
nor  Baltimore  hath  the  Journal  in  his  possession  for  fear  of  Coode's  agents, 
who  would  stop  at  naught  to  get  it  Instead,  Lord  Baltimore  declares,  he 
hath  broken  it  into  three  portions  for  safekeeping  and  deposited  the  several 
portions  privily  in  Maryland,  whence  I  had  just  cornel  I  begged  of  him  the 
trustees'  names,  that  I  might  pursue  my  innocent  search,  but  he  was  loath 
to  discover  them~not  Nicholson  himself,  it  seems,  knew  more  than  I  on 
the  matter.  But  a  few  days  past  he  said  he  had  a  mission  for  me  of  such 
importance  he  could  trust  it  to  no  other  soul;  and  I  replied,  surely  I  was 
not  worthy  of  such  trust,  if  he  dared  not  name  me  the  keepers  of  the 
Journal  Whereat  he  smiled  and  said  I  had  him  fair,  inasmuch  as  the  gravity 
of  my  new  errand  outweighed  his  great  reluctance.  The  pieces  of  the 
Journal,  he  said,  were  in  the  hands  of  sundry  loyal  persons  of  the  surname 
Smith,  for  reasons  I'd  no  need  to  ask,  and  he  told  me  their  names  in 
greatest  confidence.  I  thanked  him  and  declared  I  was  ready  for  whatever 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  *79  1 

work  he  gave  me,  and  he  said  a  young  man  had  called  on  him  that  after- 
noon that  was  a  poet,,  and  he  had  charged  him  to  write  a  work  in  praise  of 
Maryland  and  the  proprietorship—the  which,  he  believed,  if  nobly  done, 
might  profit  more  than  ten  intrigues  to  win  him  back  the  Province." 

"'Sheart,  what  a  marvelous  small  world!"  Ebenezer  cried.  "And  how 
pleased  I  am  to  find  he  sets  such  store  by  poetry!  But  prithee  what  work 
was't  in  this  connection,  that  warranted  such  concession  on  his  part?" 

"He  enquired  of  me,  whether  I  knew  the  poet  Ebenezer  Cooke?  My 
heart  leaped,  for  Fd  had  no  word  of  you  or  Anna  these  seven  years,  but  I 
answered  merely  I  had  heard  mention  of  a  poet  by  that  name  but  knew 
naught  of  the  man  or  his  work.  More  than  this  I  thought  it  imprudent  to 
say,  ere  I'd  heard  the  nature  of  my  errand.  Then  he  told  me  of  your  visit 
and  proposal,  and  his  commission,  and  said  I  should  accompany  you  to 
Maryland— for  that  you'd  ne'er  before  been  out  of  England— and  act  both 
as  your  guide  and  your  protector.  I  leave  it  to  you  to  imagine  with  what 
readiness  I  took  on  the  task,  and  straightway  sought  you  out!" 

Now  the  earlier  portions  of  this  long  narrative  had  elicited  from 
Ebenezer  such  a  number  of  ah's,  marry?  s,  'sheart's,  and  b'm'faith's  that  he 
had  come  during  this  last  to  sit  for  the  most  part  wordlessly,  mouth  agape 
and  brows  a-pucker  in  a  sort  of  permanent  fGod!  as  one  amazement 
tripped  on  another's  heels.  At  the  end  he  was  moved  enough  to  embrace 
Burlingame  unashamedly— and  had,  he  found,  to  add  bad  breath  to  the 
host  of  alterations  worked  on  his  friend  by  this  seven-year  adventure:  it  was 
no  doubt  a  product  of  the  teeth  gone  carious.  The  trifle  brought  tears  to  his 
eyes— not  its  pungency,  but  its  poignancy— signifying  as  it  did  their  lengthy 
separation. 

"Ah  God,"  he  cried,  when  he  found  his  voice,  "if  Anna  but  knew  all 
you've  told  me!  Wherefore  this  role  as  Peter  Sayer,  Henry?  Why  did  you 
not  at  least  reveal  yourself  in  London  ere  we  left,  that  she  might  share  my 
joy  at  finding  you?" 

Burlingame  sighed,  and  after  a  moment  replied,  "I  am  wont  to  go  by 
names  other  than  my  own,  either  borrowed  or  invented,  for  sundry  reasons 
stemming  from  my  work.  'Twould  do  no  good  for  Coode  to  know  my 
name,  nor  e'en  that  I  exist.  What's  more,  I  can  confound  him  and  his 
agents:  I  posed  as  Sayer  in  Bragg' s,  for  instance,  and  forged  his  name,  merely 
because  Coode  thinks  the  man's  in  Plymouth  with  the  fleet.  In  like  manner 
I've  pretended  to  be  both  friends  and  enemies  of  Baltimore,  to  advance  his 
cause.  Once,  I  shall  confess,  that  time  on  Perry  Browne's  ship  Bailey,  I 
posed  as  Coode  himself  to  the  poor  dolt  Ben  Ricaud,  to  intercept  those 


[  l8o  ]     '  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

letters;  Ricaud  was  a  London  friend  of  Cheseldyne's  and  had  ne'er  seen 
Coode  before,  for  all  he'd  heard  of  him.  The  truth  is,  Eben,  no  man  save 
Richard  Hill,  Lord  Baltimore,,  and  yourself  hath  known  my  name  since 
1687,  when  first  I  commenced  to  play  the  game  of  governments;  and  the 
game  itself  hath  made  such  changes  in  me,  that  none  who  knew  me  erst 
would  know  me  now,  nor  do  I  mean  them  to.  Tis  better  they  think  me 
lost." 

"Yet  surely  Anna " 

"  'Tis  but  thy  first  enquiry  I've  replied  to/*  Burlingame  interrupted,  rais- 
ing his  forefinger.  "For  the  second,  do  not  forget  that  many  are  bound 
from  London  for  the  fleet— Coode's  men  as  well  as  ours,  and  haply  Coode 
himself— whether  to  place  themselves  under  Nicholson's  protection  or 
work  some  mischief  against  him.  Twould  have  been  foolish,  even  perilous, 
to  shed  my  mask  in  that  place.  Moreover,  there  was  no  time:  I  scarce  caught 
up  with  you  ere  you  left,  and  mark  how  long  I've  beea  discovering  myself 
to  you.  The  fleet  had  sailed  without  us/* 

"Aye,  that's  true,"  Ebenezer  admitted. 

"What's  more"— Burlingame  laughed— 4Td  not  yet  made  my  own  mind 
up,  whether  'twere  wise  e'en  you  should  know  the  truth.0 

"What!  Think  you  I'd  e'er  betray  thy  trust?  And  could  you  thus  callously 
deprive  me  of  my  only  friend?  You  injure  me!" 

"As  to  the  first,  'twas  just  to  answer  it  I  posed  as  Saycr  and  queried  you— 
the  years  change  any  man.  Ben  Bragg  had  said  fchou'rt  but  an  opportunist; 
nor  was  your  servant  more  persuaded  of  your  motive,  for  all  he  admired 
you.  Again,  how  could  I  know  your  sentiments  towards  Burlingame?  The 
tale  you  told  to  Peter  Sayer  was  your  bond;  when  I  had  heard  it,  I  revealed 
myself  at  once,  but  had  you  sung  a  different  tune,  'tis  Peter  Sayer  had  been 
your  guide,  not  Burlingame/' 

"Enough.  I  am  convinced  and  cannot  tell  my  joy.  Yet  your  relation 
shames  me  for  my  tearfulness  and  sloth,  as  doth  your  wisdom  my  poor 
talent.  Thou'rt  a  Virgil  worth  a  better  Dante," 

"Oh  la,"  Burlingame  scoffed,  "you've  wit  enough,  and  ear,  Besides,  the 
Province  is  no  Hell  or  Purgatorio,  but  just  a  piece  o*  the  great  world  like 
England— with  the  difference,  haply,  that  the  soil  is  vast  and  new  where  the 
sot-weed  hath  not  drained  it  and  oft  will  sprout  wild  seeds  of  energy  in  men 
that  had  lain  fallow  here.  What's  more,  the  reins  and  checks  are  few  and 
weak;  good  plants  and  weeds  alike  grow  tall  Do  but  recall,  if  the  people 
there  seem  strange  and  rough:  a  man  content  with  Europe  scarce  would 
cross  the  ocean.  The  plain  fact  is,  the  greatest  part  are  castaways  from 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  l8l  ] 

Europe,  or  the  sons  of  castaways:  rebels,  failures,  jailbirds  and  adventurers. 
Cast  such  seed  on  such  soil,  and  'twere  fond  to  seek  a  crop  of  dons  and 
courtiers!" 

"Yet  you  speak  as  one  who  loves  the  place/'  said  Ebenezer,  "and  that 
alone,  for  me,  is  warrant  I  shall  too." 

Burlingame  shrugged— another  habit  apparently  picked  up  in  his  travels. 
"Haply  so,  haply  no.  There  is  a  freedom  there  that's  both  a  blessing  and  a 
curse,  for't  means  both  liberty  and  lawlessness.  Tis  more  than  just  political 
and  religious  liberty— they  come  and  go  from  one  year  to  the  next.  Tis 
philosophic  liberty  I  speak  of,  that  comes  from  want  of  history.  It  throws 
one  on  his  own  resources,  that  freedom— makes  every  man  an  orphan  like 
myself  and  can  as  well  demoralize  as  elevate.  But  no  more:  I  see  the  masts 
and  spires  of  Plymouth  yonder.  You'll  know  the  Province  soon  enough  and 
how  it  strikes  you!" 

Even  as  Burlingame  spoke  the  smell  of  the  sea  blew  into  the  carriage, 
stirring  Ebenezer  to  the  depths  of  his  being,  and  when  a  short  while  later 
he  saw  it  for  the  first  time,  spread  out  before  him  to  the  far  horizon,  he 
shivered  twice  or  thrice  all  over  and  came  near  to  passing  water  in  his 
breeches. 


8:    THE  LAUREATE  INDITES  A  QUATRAIN  AND  FOULS 
HIS  BREECHES 


"REMEMBER,"  BURLINGAME  SAID  AS  THE  CARRIAGE  ROLLED  INTO  PLYM- 
outh,  "I  am  not  Henry  Burlingame,  nor  Peter  Sayer  either,  for  the  real 
Sayer's  somewhere  on  the  fleet.  You'd  best  not  give  me  any  name  at  all,  I 
think,  till  I  see  how  lays  the  land." 

Accordingly,  as  soon  as  their  chests  and  trunks  were  put  down  they 
inquired  after  the  Poseidon  at  the  wharves  and  were  told  it  had  already 
joined  the  fleet. 

"What!"  cried  Ebenezer.  "Then  we  have  missed  it  after  alll" 

"Nay,"  Burlingame  smiled,  "  'tis  not  unusual.  The  fleet  assembles  yonder 
in  the  Downs  off  The  Lizard;  you  can  see't  from  here  on  a  clear  day." 

Inquiring  further  he  found  a  shallop  doing  ferry-service  between  the 
Downs  and  the  harbor,  and  arranged  for  passage  aboard  it  in  the  afternoon. 

"We'd  as  well  take  one  last  meal  ashore,"  he  explained  to  Ebenezer. 


[  182  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"Moreover  I  must  change  clothing,  for  I've  resolved  to  pose  as  your  servant 
What  was  his  name?'7 

"Bertrand,"  Ebenezer  murmured.  "But  must  you  be  a  servant?" 

"Aye,  or  else  invent  an  entire  gentleman  as  your  companion*  As  Bertrand 
I  can  pass  unnoticed  in  your  company  and  hear  more  news  as  well  of  your 
fellow  travelers." 

So  saying  he  led  the  way  across  the  street  from  the  wharves  to  a  tavern 
advertising  itself  by  two  capital  letter  Cs>  face  to  face  and  interlocking,  the 
figure  surmounted  by  a  three-lobed  crown* 

"Here's  the  King  o'  the  Seas/'  said  Burlingame  "Tis  a  jolly  place,  by 
Heav'n.  I  know  it  of  old/'  They  stepped  inside  the  door  and  surveyed  the 
room.  Burlingame  sighed.  "  'Twas  here  I  got  my  first  wee  clap,  while  still  a 
hand  on  Captain  Salmon's  ship.  A  bony  Welsh  tart  gave  it  me,  that  had 
made  the  best  of  my  inexperience  to  charge  me  a  clean  girl's  price,  and  by 
the  time  the  fraud  came  clear  I  was  many  a  day's  sail  from  Plymouth, 
bound  for  Lisbon.  The  clap  soon  left  me,  but  I  ne'er  forgot  the  wench* 
When  in  Lisbon  I  found  a  vessel  bound  for  Plymouth  and  made  enquiries 
amongst  the  crew,  till  at  length  I  hit  upon  a  one-eyed  Portugee  that  was  like 
to  perish  of  a  miserable  clap  from  Africa,  beside  which  our  English  sort  was 
but  a  fleabite.  This  frightful  wight  I  gave  my  fine  new  quadrant  to,  that 
Captain  Salmon  had  bought  me  to  practice  navigation  with,  on  condi- 
tion he  share  his  clap  with  the  Welsh  whore  at  the  King  o*  the  Seas  directly 
he  made  port.  But  no  man  e'er  died  of  the  food  here," 

It  being  midmorning,  the  tavern  was  deserted  except  for  a  young  saving 
maid  scrubbing  the  flagstone  floor.  She  was  short  and  plump,  coarse-haired 
and  befreckled,  but  her  eyes  had  a  merry  light  and  her  nose  a  pertness, 
Leaving  Ebenezer  to  select  a  table,  Burlingame  approached  her  familiarly 
and  engaged  her  in  conversation  which,  though  spoken  in  voices  too  low 
for  Ebenezer  to  hear  distinctly,  soon  had  her  laughing  and  wagging  a  finger 
in  feigned  admonition, 

"The  duckling  swore  she'd  naught  but  fish  in  the  larder/*  he  said  when 
presently  he  returned,  "but  when  I  told  her  'twas  a  lauitsate  she  was  feeding, 
that  could  lay  the  place  low  with  Hudibrastics,  she  agreed  to  stay  year  pen 
with  roast  of  beef.  Twill  be  heie  anon." 

"You  twit  me,"  Ebenezer  said  modestly. 

Burlingame  shmgged.  "Methinks  Til  change  costume  the  while  ifs 
fixing.  I  must  ask  yonder  cherub  the  way  to  the  privy," 

"But  our  baggage  is  on  the  wharf," 

"No  matter.  Scotch  cloth  to  silk  is  oft  a  life-time's  journey,  but  sflk  to 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  183  ] 

Scotch  cloth  can  be  traversed  in  a  minute."  He  went  again  to  the  serving 
maid,  who  smiled  at  his  approach,  and  spoke  §oftly  to  her,  at  the  same 
time  pinching  her  smartly.  She  squealed  in  mock  protest  and,  one  hand 
on  her  hip,  pointed  laughing  to  a  door  beside  the  fireplace.  Burlingame 
then  took  her  arm  as  though  to  lead  her  along  with  him;  when  she  drew 
back  he  whispered  seriously  in  her  ear  and  whispered  again  when  she  gasped 
and  shook  her  head.  She  glanced  towards  Ebenezer,  who  blushed  at  once 
and  feigned  preoccupation  with  the  set  of  his  cravat;  Burlingame  whispered 
a  third  message  that  turned  her  bright  eyes  coyly,  and  left  the  room  through 
the  indicated  door.  The  girl  lingered  for  two  minutes  in  the  room.  Then 
she  took  another  sharp  look  at  Ebenezer,  sniffed,  and  flounced  through 
the  same  door. 

Though  he  was  not  a  little  embarrassed  by  the  small  drama,  the  poet  was 
pleased  enough  to  be  alone  for  a  short  while,  not  only  to  ponder  the 
wondrous  adventures  of  his  friend,  which  had  been  two  days  in  the  telling 
(and  the  vast  reaches  of  terra  incognita  he  had  glimpsed  in  the  character 
of  the  man  he  thought  he'd  known  entire),  but  also  to  take  stock  of  his 
own  position;  to  reflect  a  final  time  on  the  grand  adventure  into  which 
he'd  flung  himself  and  the  marvelous  step  he  was  about  to  take. 

"I  have  been  so  occupied  gaping  and  gasping  at  Henry,"  said  he  to  him- 
self, "I  have  near  forgot  who  I  am,  and  what  business  I'm  embarked  upon. 
Not  a  line  have  I  writ  since  London,  nor  thought  at  all  of  logging  my 
journey/' 

He  forthwith  spread  before  him  on  the  table  his  ever-present  double- 
entry  ledger,  open  to  that  page  whereon  was  transcribed  the  first  quatrain 
of  his  official  career,  and  fetching  quill  and  ink  from  a  stand  on  the  wall 
next  the  serving-bar,  considered  what  should  grace  the  facing-page. 

"I  can  say  naught  whate'er  of  my  journey  hither,  in  the  Marylandiad" 
he  reflected,  "for  I  saw  but  little  oft.  Moreover,  *twere  fitter  I  commenced 
the  poem  from  Plymouth,,  where  most  who  sail  to  Maryland  take  their 
leave  of  Albion's  rocks;  'twill  pitch  the  teader  straightway  on  his  voyage/' 
Pursuing  farther  this  line  of  thought,  he  resolved  to  write  his  epn 
Marylandiad  in  the  form  of  an  imaginary  voyage,  thinking  thereby  to  dis 
cover  to  the  reader  the  delights  of  the  Province  with  the  same  freshnes' 
and  surprise  wherewith  they  would  discover  themselves  to  the  voyager-poet. 
It  was  with  pleasure  and  a  kind  of  awe,  therefore,  that  he  recalled  the  name 
of  his  ship. 

"Poseidonl"  he  thought,  "It  bodes  well,  f faith!  A  very  Virgil  for  com- 


[  184  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

panion,  and  the  Earth-Shaker  himself  for  fenymaster  to  this  Elysium!  What 
ill  can  befall  who  sails  in  such  company?'* 

And  turning  the  happy  figure  some  minutes  in  his  mind,  at  length  he 
wrote: 

Let  Ocean  roar  his  damn'dest  Gate: 

Our  Planks  shan't  leak;  our  Masts  shan't  fo& 

With  great  Poseidon  at  our  Side 

He  seemeth  neither  wild  nor  wide. 

At  the  foot  he  appended  E.G.,  G**\  P*  &  L?  of  M*,  and  beamed  with 
satisfaction. 

"Naught  succeedeth  like  success"  he  declared  to  himself, 
While  he  was  thus  engaged,  two  men  came  into  the  tavern  and  noisily 
closed  the  door.  They  were  sailors,  by  the  look  of  them— but  not  ordinary 
seamen— and  like  enough  for  twins  in  manner  and  appearance:  both  were 
short  and  heavy,  red-nosed,  squint-eyed,  and  black-whiskered,  and  wore  their 
natural  hair;  both  were  dressed  in  black  breeches  and  coats,  and  sported 
twin-peaked  hats  of  the  same  color.  Each  wore  a  brace  of  pistols  at  his  right, 
stuck  down  through  his  sash,  and  a  cutlass  at  his  left,  and  carried  besides  a 
heavy  black  cane, 

"Thou'rt  my  guest  for  beer,  Captain  Scuny,"  growled  one 
"Nay,  Captain  Slye,"  growled  the  other,  "for  thou' it  mine;* 
With  that,  still  standing,  they  both  commenced  to  bang  their  sticks  upon 
a  table  for  service.  "Beerl"  one  cried,  and  "Beer!"  cried  the  other,  and  they 
glowered,  scowled,  and  grumbled  when  their  cries  brought  no  response. 
So  fearsome  was  their  aspect,  and  fierce  their  manner,  Ebenezer  decided 
they  were  pirate  captains,  but  he  had  not  the  courage  to  8ce  the  room. 
"Beer/"  they  called  again,  and  again  smote  the  table  with  their  sticks  to 
no  avail  Ebenezer  buried  himself  in  his  notebook,  spread  out  before  him 
on  the  table,  and  prayed  they'd  take  no  notice  of  his  presence.  He  knew 
well,  from  the  History  of  the  Buccaneer*,  that  pirates  were  moved  to 
violence  by  the  merest  trifles;  the  simple  fact  of  one's  presence  or  the  cut 
of  one's  wig,  if  their  mood  was  delicate,  could  provoke  them  to  murder.  He 
damned  the  serving  girl  for  her  absence. 

"  Tis  my  suspicion,  Captain  Slye,"  one  of  them  said,  "that  we  must  serve 
ourselves  or  seek  our  man  with  dry  throats." 

"Then  let  us  draw  our  beer  and  have  done  with't,  Captain  Scurry,"  re- 
plied the  other.  'The  rascal  can't  be  far  away,  1  shall  d»w  two  steins,  and 
haply  he'll  come  in  ere  we've  drunk  'em  off," 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  185  ] 

"Haply,  haply/'  the  first  allowed.  "But  'tis  I  shall  draw  the  steins,  for 
thou'rt  my  guest." 

"The  devil  on7t!"  cried  the  second.  "  'Twas  I  spake  first,  and  thou'rt  my 
guest,  God  damn  ye!" 

"I'll  see  thee  first  in  Hell,"  said  Number  One.  "The  treat  is  mine." 

"Mine!"  said  Number  Two,  more  threateningly. 

"Thine  in  a  pig's  arse!" 

"I  shall  draw  thy  beer,  Captain  Slye,"  said  Number  Two,  fetching  out  a 
pistol,  "or  draw  thy  blood." 

"And  I  thine,"  said  Number  One,  doing  likewise,  "else  thou'rt  a  banquet 
for  the  worms." 

"Gentlemen,  gentlemen!"  Ebenezer  cried.  "In  Heav'n's  name  hold  thy 
fire!" 

Instantly  he  regretted  his  words.  The  two  men  turned  to  glare  at  him, 
still  pointing  pistols  at  each  other,  and  their  expressions  grew  so  menacing 
that  Ebenezer  trembled. 

"  Tis  none  of  my  affair,"  he  said  hastily,  for  they  began  moving  toward 
him.  "Not  the  least  of  my  affair,  I  grant  that.  What  I  meant  to  say  was, 
'twould  be  an  honor  and  a  pleasure  to  me  to  buy  for  both  of  you,  and  draw 
as  well,  if  you'll  but  show  me  how.  Nay,  no  matter,  I'll  wager  I  can  do't 
right  off,  with  no  instruction,,  for  many's  the  time  in  Locket's  I've  seen  it 
done.  Aye,"  he  went  on,  backing  away  from  them,  "there's  naught  of  skill 
or  secret  to't  but  this,  to  edge  the  glass  against  the  tap  if  the  keg  be  wild  and 
let  the  beer  slide  gently  in;  or  be't  flat,  allow  the  stream  some  space  to  fall 
ere't  fill  the  glass,  that  striking  harder  'twill  foam  the  more " 

"Cease!"  commanded  Number  One,  and  fetched  the  table  such  a  clap 
of  the  cane  that  Ebenezer's  notebook  jumped.  "I'God,  Captain  Slye,  did 
e'er  ye  hear  such  claptrap?" 

"Nor  such  impertinence,  Captain  Scurry/'  answered  the  other,  "that  not 
content  to  meddle  in  our  business,  the  knave  would  have't  all  his  own." 

"Nay,  gentlemen,  you  mistake  me!"  Ebenezer  cried. 

"Prithee  close  thy  mouth  and  sit,"  said  Captain  Scurry,  pointing  with  his 
stick  to  the  poet's  chair.  Then  to  his  companion  he  declared,  "Ye  must 
excuse  me  while  I  put  a  ball  'twixt  this  ninny's  eyes." 

"Twill  be  my  pleasure,"  the  other  replied,  "and  then  we'll  drisk  in 
peace."  Both  pistols  now  were  aimed  at  Ebenezer. 

"No  guest  of  mine  shall  stoop  to  such  mean  trifles,"  said  the  first.  Ebene- 
zer, standing  behind  his  chair,  looked  again  to  the  door  through  which 
Burlingaine  and  the  serving  maid  had  passed. 


[  186  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"My  sentiments  exactly/'  growled  Captain  Slyc^  "but  pray  recall  who's 
host,  or  'tis  two  pistols  I  shall  fire/' 

"  Tore  God,  good  Captains!"  Ebenezer  croaked,  but  legs  and  sphincters 
both  betrayed  him;  unable  to  say  on,  he  sank  with  wondrous  odor  to  his 
knees  and  buried  his  face  in  the  seat  of  his  chair-  At  that  instant  the  rear 
door  opened. 

"Stay,  here's  the  barmaidr  cried  Captain  Scurry.  "Fetch  me  two  beeis, 
lass,  while  I  jettison  this  stinkard!" 

"Beers  be  damnedl"  roared  Captain  Slye,  who  had  a  view  of  the  en- 
trance door.  "Yonder  goes  our  Laureate,  I  swear,  along  the  street!" 

"I'faith  let's  at  him,  then/'  said  the  other,  "ere  he  onoe  more  slips  his 
mooring!" 

Turning  their  backs  on  bear  and  poet  alike  they  hurried  out  to  the  street, 
from  which  came  shortly  the  sound  of  pistols  and  a  retreating  clamor  of 
curses.  But  Ebenezer  heard  them  not,  for  at  mention  of  their  quarry  he 
swooned  dead  away  upon  the  tavern  flags* 


9:    FURTHER  SEA-POETRY,  COMPOSED  IN  THE  STABLES 
OF  THE  KING  Q>  THE  SEAS 


WHEN   HE   REGAINED   HIS   SENSES   EBENEZER    FOUND   HIMSELF   IN   THE 

stables  of  the  King  o'  the  Seas,  lying  in  the  hay;  his  friend  Burlingame, 
dressed  in  Scotch  cloth,  squatted  at  his  hip  and  fanned  his  face  with  the 
double-entry  ledger. 

"I  was  obliged  to  fetch  you  outside/'  said  Heniy  with  a  smile,  "else  you'd 
have  driven  away  the  clients/" 

"A  pox  upon  the  clients!"  the  poet  said  weakly.  "Twas  a  pair  of  their 
clients  brought  me  to  this  pass!" 

"Are  you  your  own  man  now,  or  shall  I  fan  thcc  farther?" 

"No  farther,  prithee,  at  least  from  where  you  stand,  or  I'll  succumb  en- 
tirely." He  moved  to  sit  up,  made  a  sour  face,  and  lay  back  with  a  sigh, 

"The  fault  is  mine,  Eben;  had  I  known  aught  of  your  urgency  I'd  not 
have  lingered  such  a  time  in  yonder  privy.  How  is*t  you  did  not  use  this  hay 
instead?  Tis  no  mean  second." 

"I  cannot  make  light  off  Ebenezer  declared  'The  white  you  sported 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  187  ] 

with  the  wench,  two  pirate  captains  had  like  to  put  a  ball  betwixt  my  eyes, 
for  no  more  cause  than  that  I  ventured  to  settle  their  quarrel!" 

"Pirate  captains!" 

"Aye,  I'm  certain  oft,"  Ebenezer  insisted.  Tve  read  enough  in 
Esquemeling  to  know  a  pirate  when  I  see  one:  ferocious  fellows  as  like  as 
twins;  they  were  dressed  all  in  black,  with  black  beards  and  walking  sticks." 

"Why  did  you  not  declare  your  name  and  office?"  Burlingame  asked. 
44  'Tis  not  likely  they'd  dare  molest  you  then." 

Ebenezer  shook  his  head.  "I  thank  Heav'n  I  did  not,  for  else  my  life  had 
ended  on  the  spot.  Twas  the  Laureate  they  sought,  Henry,  to  kill  and 
murther  him!" 

"Nay!  But  why?" 

"The  Lord  alone  knows  why;  yet  I  owe  my  life  solely  to  some  poor  wight, 
that  walking  past  the  window  they  took  for  me  and  gave  him  chase.  Past 
that  I  know  naught.  Pray  God  they  missed  him  and  are  gone  for  good!*' 

"Belike  they  are,"  Burlingame  said.  "Pirates,  you  say!  Well,  'tis  not  im- 
possible, after  all But  say,  thou'rt  all  beshit  and  must  be  scrubbed." 

Ebenezer  groaned.  "Ignominy!  How  waddle  to  the  wharf  in  this  condi- 
tion, to  fetch  clean  breeches?" 

"Marry,  I  said  naught  o'  waddling,  sir,"  said  Burlingame,  in  the  tones  of 
a  country  servant.  "Only  fetch  off  thy  drawers  and  breeches  now,  that  me 
little  Dolly  maught  clean  'em  out,  and  I  shall  bring  ye  fresh  'uns." 

"Dolly?" 

"Aye,  Joan  Freckles  yonder  in  the  King  o'  the  Seas." 

Ebenezer  blushed.  "And  yet  she  is  a  woman,  for  all  her  harlotry,  and  I 
the  Laureate  of  Maryland!  I  cannot  have  her  hear  oft." 

"Hear  oft!"  Burlingame  laughed.  "You've  near  suffocated  her  already! 
Who  was  it  found  you  on  the  floor,  d'ye  think,  and  helped  me  fetch  you 
hither?  Off  with  'em  now,  Master  Laureate,  and  spare  me  thy  modesty. 
'Twas  a  woman  wiped  thy  bum  at  birth  and  another  shall  in  dotage:  what 
matter  if  one  do't  in  between?"  And  Ebenezer  having  undone  his  buttons 
with  reluctance,  his  friend  made  bold  to  give  a  mighty  jerk,  and  the  poet 
stood  exposed* 

"La  now/'  cEuickled  Burlingame.  "Thou'rt  fairly  made,  if  somewhat 
fouled." 

"I  die  of  shame  and  cannot  even  cover  myself  for  filth,"  the  poet  com- 
plained. "Do  make  haste,  Henry,  ere  someone  find  me  thus!" 

"1  shall,  for  be't  man  or  maid  you'd  not  stay  virgin  long,  I  swear,  thou'rt 
that  fetching/'  He  laughed  again  at  Ebenezer's  misery  and  gathered  up 


[  l88  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

the  soiled  garments.  "Adieu,  now:  thy  servant  will  return  anon,  if  the 
pirates  do  not  get  him.  Make  shift  to  clean  your  self  in  the  meantime. 

"But  prithee,  how?" 

Burlingame  shrugged.  "Only  look  about,  good  sir.  A  clever  man  is  never 
lost  for  long."  And  off  he  went  across  the  yard  to  the  rear  of  the  King  o' 
the  Seas,  calling  for  Dolly  to  come  get  his  prize. 

Ebenezer  at  cJnce  looked  about  him  for  some  means  to  remedy  his  un- 
happy condition.  Straw  he  rejected  at  once,  though  there  was  enough  and 
to  spare  of  it  in  the  stable:  it  could  not  even  be  clenched  in  the  hand  with 
comfort.  Next  he  considered  his  fine  holland  handkerchief  and  remem- 
bered that  it  was  in  his  breeches  pocket 

"  Tis  as  well,"  he  judged  on  second  thought,  "for  it  hath  a  murtherous 
row  of  great  French  buttons." 

Nor  could  he  sacrifice  his  coat,  shirt,  or  stockings,  for  he  lacked  on  the 
one  hand  clothes  enough  to  throw  away,  and  on  the  other  courage  enough 
to  give  the  barmaid  further  laundry,  "A  clever  man  is  never  lost  for  long," 
he  repeated  to  himself,  and  regarding  next  the  tail  of  a  great  bay  gelding 
in  a  stall  behind  him,  rejected  it  on  the  grounds  that  its  altitude  and  posi- 
tion rendered  it  at  once  inaccessible  and  dangerous.  "What  doth  this  teach 
us,"  he  reflected  with  pursed  lips,  "if  not  that  one  man's  wit  is  poor  indeed? 
Fools  and  wild  beasts  live  by  mother  wit  and  learn  from  experience;  the 
wise  man  learns  from  the  wits  and  lives  of  others.  Marry,  is't  for  naught ! 
spent  two  years  at  Cambridge,  and  three  times  two  with  Henry  in  my 
father's  summerhouse?  If  native  wit  can't  save  me,  then  education  shall!" 

Accordingly  he  searched  his  education  for  succor,  beginning  with  his 
memory  of  history.  "Why  should  men  prize  the  records  of  the  past,"  he 
asked,  "save  as  lessons  for  the  present?  Twene  an  idle  pastime  else,"  Yet 
though  he  was  no  stranger  to  Herodotus,  Thucydides,  Polybius,  Suetonius, 
Sallust,  and  other  chroniclers  ancient  and  modern,  he  couW  recall  in  them 
no  precedent  for  his  present  plight,  and  thus  no  counsel,  and  had  at  length 
to  give  over  the  attempt u  Tis  clear,"  he  concluded,  "that  History  teacheth 
not  a  man,  but  mankind;  her  muse's  pupil  is  the  body  politic  or  its  leaders. 
Nay,  more,"  he  reasoned  further,  shivering  a  bit  in  the  breeze  off  the 
harbor,  "the  eyes  of  Clio  are  like  the  eyes  of  snakes,  that  can  see  naught  but 
motion:  she  marks  the  rise  and  fall  of  nations,  but  of  things  immutable- 
eternal  verities  and  timeless  problems— she  rightly  takes  no  notice,  for  fear 
of  poaching  on  Philosophy's  preserve/* 

Next,  therefore,  he  summoned  to  mind  as  much  as  ever  he  could  of 
Aristotle,  Epicurus,  Zeno,  Augustine*  Thomas  Aquinas,  and  the  *est>  not 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  189  ] 

forgetting  his  Platonfcal  professors  and  their  one-time  friend  Descartes;  but 
though  they'd  no  end  of  interest  in  whether  his  plight  was  real  or  fancied, 
and  whether  it  merited  concern  sub  specie  aeternitatis,  and  whether  his 
future  action  with  regard  to  it  was  already  determined  or  entirely  in  his 
hands,  yet  none  advanced  specific  counsel.  "Can  it  be  they  all  shat  syllo- 
gisms, that  have  nor  stench  nor  stain/'  he  wondered,  "and  naught  besides? 
Or  is't  that  no  fear  travels  past  their  Reason,  to  ruin  their  breeches  withal?" 
The  truth  of  the  matter  was,  he  decided,  peering  across  the  court  in  vain  for 
Henry,  that  philosophy  dealt  with  generalities,  categories,  and  abstractions 
alone,  like  More's  eternal  spissitude,  and  spoke  of  personal  problems  only 
insofar  as  they  illustrated  general  ones;  in  any  case,  to  the  best  of  his 
recollection  it  held  no  answer  for  such  homely,  practical  predicaments  as 
his  own. 

He  did  not  even  consider  physics,  astronomy,  and  the  other  areas  of 
natural  philosophy,  for  the  same  reason;  nor  did  he  crack  his  memory  on 
the  plastic  arts,  for  he  knew  full  well  no  Phidias  or  Michelangelo  would 
deign  to  immortalize  a  state  like  his,  whatever  their  attraction  for  human 
misery.  No,  he  resolved  at  last,  it  was  to  literature  he  must  turn  for  help, 
and  should  have  sooner,  for  literature  alone  of  all  the  arts  and  sciences  took 
as  her  province  the  entire  range  of  man's  experience  and  behavior— from 
cradle  to  grave  and  beyond,  from  emperor  to  hedge-whore,  from  the  burn- 
ing of  cities  to  the  breaking  of  wind— and  human  problems  of  every 
magnitude:  in  literature  alone  might  one  find  catalogued  with  equal  care 
the  ancestors  of  Noah,  the  ships  of  the  Achaians 

"And  the  bum-swipes  of  Garg^ntual"  he  exclaimed  aloud.  "How  is't  I  . 
did  not  think  of  them  till  now?"  He  reviewed  with  joy  that  chapter  out  of 
Rabelais  wherein  the  young  Gargantua  tries  his  hand,  as  it  were,  at  sundry 
swabs  and  wipers— not  in  desperation,  to  be  sure,  but  in  a  spirit  of  pure 
empiricism,  to  discover  the  noblest  for  good  and  all— and  awards  the  prize 
at  last  to  the  neck  of  a  live  white  goose;  but  hens  and  guineas  though  there 
were  a-plenty  in  the  yard  around  the  stable,  not  a  goose  could  Ebenezer 
spy.  "Nor  were't  fit,"  he  decided  a  moment  later,  somewhat  crestfallen, 
"save  in  a  comic  or  satiric  book,  to  use  a  silly  fowl  so  hardly,  that  anon  must 
perish  to  please  our  bellies.  Good  Rabelais  surely  meant  it  as  a  jest."  In  like 
manner,  though  with  steadily  mounting  consternation,  he  considered  what 
other  parallels  to  his  circumstances  he  could  remember  from  what  literature 
he  had  read,  and  rejected  each  in  turn  as  inapplicable  or  irrelevant.  Litera- 
ture too,  he  concluded  with  heavy  heart,  availed  him  not,  for  though  it 
afforded  one  a  certain  sophistication  about  life  and  a  release  from  one's 


[  190  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

single  mortal  destiny,  it  did  not,  except  accidentally,  afford  solutions  to 
practical  problems.  And  after  literature,  what  else  remained? 

He  recalled  John  McEvoy's  accusation  that  he  knew  nothing  of  the  en- 
tire great  real  world  and  the  actual  people  in  it.  What,  in  fact,  he  asked 
himself,  would  others  do  in  his  place,  who  did  know  the  great  real  world? 
But  of  such  knowledgeable  folk  he  knew  but  two  at  all  well— Burlingarne 
and  McEvoy— and  it  was  unthinkable  of  either  that  they  would  ever  be 
in  his  place.  Yet  knowledge  of  the  world,  he  quite  understood,  went  further 
than  personal  acquaintance:  how  fared  the  savage  hordes  and  heathen  peo- 
ples of  the  earth,  who  never  saw  a  proper  bum-swab?  The  Arabs  of  the 
desert,  who  had  no  forest  leaves  nor  any  paper?  Surely  they  contrived  a 
measure  of  cleanliness  in  some  wise,,  else  each  perforce  would  live  a  hermit 
and  the  race  die  out  in  a  single  generation.  But  of  all  the  customs  and 
exotic  practices  of  which  he'd  heard  from  Burlingame  or  read  in  his  youth- 
ful books  of  voyages  and  gravel,  only  one  could  he  remember  that  was  to 
the  point;  the  peasant  folk  of  India,  Burlingame  had  once  observed  to 
him,  ate  with  their  right  hands  only,  inasmuch  as  the  left  was  customarily 
used  for  personal  cleanliness. 

44  Tis  no  solution,  but  a  mere  postponement  of  my  difficulties,"  the  poet 
sighed,  "What  hope  hath  he  for  other  aid,  whom  wit  and  the  world  have 
both  betrayed?" 

He  started,  and  despite  the  discomfort  of  his  position,  glowed  with 
pleasure  when  he  recognized  the  couplet*  "Whate'er  my  straits,  I  still  am 
virgin  and  poet!  What  hope  hath  he  ,  ,  .  Would  Heav'n  I'd  ink  and  quill, 
to  pen  him  ere  he  cools!"  He  resolved  in  any  case  to  dog-ear  a  leaf  in  his 
notebook  as  a  reminder  to  set  down  the  couplet  later;  it  was  not  until  the 
volume  was  spread  open  in  his  hands,  and  he  was  leafing  through  its  empty 
pages,  that  he  saw  in  it  what  none  of  his  previous  efforts  had  led  him  to. 

"Tis  a  propitious  omen,  b'm'faith!"  said  he,  not  a  little  awed.  He 
regretted  having  torn  out  in  the  London  posthouse  those  sheets  in  the 
ledger  on  which  Ben  Bragg  had  kept  his  accounts,  not  only  because  his 
years  with  Peter  Paggen  had  soured  his  taste  for  the  world  of  debit  and 
credit,  but  also  because  he  remembered  how  scarce  was  paper  in  the 
provinces,  and  so  was  loath  to  waste  a  single  sheet*  Indeed,  so  very  reluctant 
was  he,  for  a  moment  he  seriously  considered  tearing  out  instead  what  few 
pages  he'd  already  rhymed  on:  his  Hymn  to  Chastity,  the  little  quatrain 
recalled  to  him  by  Burlingame,  and  his  preliminary  salute  to  the  ship 
Pow'don.  Only  the  utter  impropriety,  the  virtual  sacrilege  of  the  deed, 
restrained  his  hand  and  kd  him  at  length  to  use  two  fresh  and  virgin  sheets 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  191  ] 

—and  then  two  more—for  the  work,  which  completed  with  no  small  labor, 
owing  to  the  drying  effect  of  the  breeze,  he  turned  into  an  allegory  thus: 
the  unused  sheets  were  songs  unborn,  which  yet  had  power,  as  it  were  in 
utero,  to  cleanse  and  ennoble  him  who  would  in  time  deliver  them— in 
short,  the  story  of  his  career  to  date.  Or  they  were  token  of  his  double 
essence,  called  forth  too  late  to  prevent  his  shame  but  able  still  to  cleanse 
the  leavings  of  his  fear.  Or  again— but  his  pleasant  allegorizing  was  broken 
off  by  the  appearance,  from  the  rear  of  the  King  o'  the  Seas,  of  befreckled 
Dolly,  bringing  his  drawers  and  breeches  out  to  dry.  Despite  his  embarrass- 
ment he  craned  his  head  around  the  stable  entrance  and  inquired  after 
Burlingame,  who  had  by  this  time  been  absent  for  nearly  an  hour;  but  the 
woman  professed  to  know  nothing  of  his  whereabouts. 

"Yet  'twas  but  across  the  street  he  went!"  Ebenezer  protested. 

"I  know  naught  oft/'  Dolly  said  stubbornly,  and  turned  to  go. 

"Wait!"  the  poet  called 

"Well?" 

He  blushed.  "Tis  something  chill  out  here— might  you  fetch  me  a 
blanket  from  upstairs,  or  other  covering,  against  my  man's  return?" 

Dolly  shook  her  head.  "  Tis  not  a  service  of  the  house,  sir,  save  to  them 
as  stop  the  night.  Your  man  paid  me  a  shilling  for  the  breeches,  but  naught 
was  said  of  blankets." 

"Plague  take  thee!"  Ebenezer  cried,  in  his  wrath  almost  forgetting  to 
conceal  himself.  "Was  Midas  e'er  so  greedy  as  a  woman?  You'll  get  thy 
filthy  shilling  anon,  when  my  man  appears!" 

"No  penny,  no  paternoster"  the  girl  said  pertly.  "I  have  no  warrant 
he'll  appear." 

"Thy  master  shall  hear  of  this  impertinencel" 

She  shrugged,  Burlingame-like. 

"A  toddy,  then,  i'God,  or  coffee,  ere  I  take  ill!  'Sheart,  girl,  I  am " 

He  checked  himself,  remembering  the  pirate  captains.  "Tis  a  gentleman 
that  asks  you,  not  a  common  sailor!" 

"Were't  King  William  himself  he'd  have  not  a  sip  on  credit  at  lie  King 
o'  the  Seas." 

Ebenezer  gave  over  the  attempt,  "If  I  must  catch  my  death  in  this  foul 
stable/'  he  sighed,  "might  you  at  least  provide  me  ink  and  quill,  or  is  that 
too  no  service  of  the  house?" 

"Ink  and  quill  are  free  for  all  to  use,"  Dolly  allowed,  and  shortly  brought 
them  to  the  stable  door. 


t  192  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"Ye  must  use  your  own  book  to  scribble  in,"  she  declared-  "Paper's  too 
dear  to  throw  away," 

"And  I  threatened  you  with  your  master!  Marry,  thou'rt  his  fortune!" 
Alone  again,  he  set  on  the  dog-eared  page  of  his  ledger  book  that 
aphoristic  couplet  which  had  so  aided  him,  and  would  have  tried  his  hand 
at  further  verses,  but  the  discomfort  of  his  situation  made  creation  impos- 
sible. The  passage  of  time  alarmed  him:  the  sun  passed  the  meridian  and 
began  its  fall  toward  the  west;  soon,  surely,  it  would  be  time  to  board  the 
shallop  which  was  to  feny  them  to  the  Poseidon,  and  still  there  was  no 
sign  of  Burlingame.  The  wind  changed  direction,  blew  more  directly  off 
the  harbor  and  into  the  stable,  and  chilled  the  poet  through.  At  length  he 
was  obliged  to  seek  shelter  in  an  empty  stall  nearby,  where  enough  fresh 
hay  was  piled  to  cover  his  legs  and  hips  when  he  sat  in  it*  Indeed,  after  his 
initial  distaste  he  found  himself  warm  and  comfortable  enough,  if  still  a 
trifle  apprehensive—  as  much  for  Burlingame's  welfare  as  for  his  own,  for  he 
readily  imagined  his  friend's  having  fallen  afoul  of  the  pirate  captains.  Re- 
solving to  cheer  himself  with  happier  thoughts  (and  at  the  same  time  fight 
against  the  drowsiness  that  his  relative  comfort  induced  at  once)  be  turned 
again  to  that  page  in  his  notebook  which  borer  the  Poseidon  quatrain.  And 
for  all  he'd  never  yet  laid  eyes  upon  that  vessel,  aftet  some  deliberation  he 
joined  to  the  first  quatrain  a  second,  which  called  her  frankly 

A  noble  Ship,  from  Deck  to  P«dte, 
Akin  to  those  that  Homers  Creeks 
Satfd  east  to  Troy  in  Day*  of  Yow, 


From  here  it  was  small  labor  to  extend  the  tribute  to  captain  and  crew 
as  well,  though  in  truth  he'd  met  no  seafaring  men  in  his  life  save 
Burlingame  and  the  fearsome  piiate  captains.  Giving  himself  wholly  to  the 
muse,  and  rejecting  quatrains  for  stanzas  of  a  length  befitting  the  «pfc»  he 
wrote  on: 

Our  Captain,  like  a  briny  God, 
Beside  the  Helm  did  pace  and  plod, 
And  shouted  Orders  at  the  Sty, 
Where  doughty  Seamen,  Mat-top  Aigfc, 
Unfurl'd  and  furl'd  our  migfity  Sob, 
To  catch  the  Winds  but  miss  the  Gal*  . 
O  noble,  $dty  Tritons  Race, 
Who  br<m  the  wild  Atlaatics  Fae* 
And  reckless  best  both  Wind  and  Tide: 
God  bless  th*e>  Ltd*,  fm  Albioos 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  193  ] 

In  a  kind  of  reverie  he  saw  himself  actually  aboard  the  Poseidon,  dry- 
breeched  and  warm,  his  gear  safely  stowed  below.  The  sky  was  brilliant. 
A  fresh  wind  from  the  east  raised  whitecaps  in  the  sparkling  ocean, 
threatened  to  lift  his  hat  and  the  hats  of  the  cordial  gentlemen  with  whom 
he  stood  in  converse  on  the  poop,  and  fanned  from  red  to  yellow  the  coals 
of  good  tobacco  in  their  pipes.  With  what  grace  did  the  crewmen  race  aloft 
to  make  sail!  To  what  a  chorus  did  the  anchor  rise  dripping  from  the  bottom 
of  the  sea  and  the  mighty  ship  make  way!  The  gentlemen  held  their  hats, 
peered  down  at  the  wave  of  foam  beneath  the  sprit  and  up  at  the  sea  birds 
circling  off  the  yards,  squinted  their  eyes  against  sun  and  spray,  and  laughed 
in  awe  at  the  scrambling  sailors.  Anon  a  steward  from  below  politely  made 
a  sign,  and  all  the  gay  company  retired  to  dinner  in  the  Captain's  quarters. 
Ebenezer  sat  at  that  worthy's  right,,  and  no  wit  was  sharper  than  his,  nor 
any  hunger.  But  what  a  feast  was  laid  before  them!  Dipping  his  quill  ag&in, 
he  wrote: 

Ye  ask,  What  eat  our  merry  Band 
En  Route  to  lovely  MARYLAND? 
I  answer:  Ne'er  were  such  Delights 
As  met  our  Sea~$harp'd  Appetites 
E'er  serv'd  to  Jove  and  Junos  Breed 
By  Vulcan  and  by  Ganymede. 

There  was  more  to  be  said,  but  so  sweeter  was  the  dream  than  its  articula- 
tion, and  so  thorough  his  fatigue,  he  scarce  could  muster  gumption  to 
Subscribe  the  usual  E.G.,  Gw*,  P*  &  V  of  M*  before  his  eyes  completely 
closed,  his  head  nodded  forward,  and  he  knew  no  more. 

It  seemed  but  a  moment  that  he  slept;  yet  when  roused  by  the  noise  of  a 
groom  leading  a  horse  into  the  stable,  he  observed  with  alarm  that  the  sun 
was  well  along  in  the  western  sky:  the  square  of  light  from  the  doorway 
stretched  almost  to  where  he  sat  in  the  straw.  He  leaped  up,  remembered 
his  semi-nudity,  and  snatched  a  double  handful  of  straw  to  cover  himself. 

"The  jakes  is  there  across  the  yard,  sir,"  the  boy  said,  not  visibly  sur- 
prised, "though  I  grant  'tis  little  sweeter  than  this  stable/' 

"Nay,  you  mistake  me,  lad But  no  matter.  See  you  those  drawers  and 

breeches  on  yonder  line?  'Twill  be  a  great  service  to  me  if  you  will  feel  of 
them,  whether  they  be  dry,  and  if  so,  fetch  them  hither  with  all  haste,  for  I 
must  catch  a  ferry  to  the  Downs/' 

The  young  man  did  as  instructed,  and  soon  Ebenezer  was  able  to  leave 
the  stable  behind  him  at  last  and  run  with  all  possible  speed  to  the  wharf, 
searching  as  he  ran  for  Burlingame  or  the  two  pirate  captains  into  whose 


[  194  3  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

clutches  he  feared  his  friend  had  fallen.  When  he  reached  the  wharf, 
breathless,  he  found  to  his  dismay  that  the  shallop  was  already  gone  and 
his  trunk  with  it,  though  Burlingame's  remained  behind  on  the  pier  exactly 
where  it  had  been  placed  that  morning.  His  heart  sank. 

An  old  mariner  sat  nearby  on  a  coil  of  rope  belonging  to  the  shallop, 
smoking  a  long  clay  pipe* 

"I  say,  sir,  when  did  the  shallop  sail?" 

"Not  half  an  hour  past/'  the  old  man  said,  not  troubling  to  turn  his 
eyes,  "Ye  can  spy  her  yet/' 

"Was  there  a  short  fellow  among  the  passengers*  that  wore"— he  was 
ready  to  describe  Burlingame's  port-purple  coat,  but  remembered  in  time 
his  friend's  disguise— "that  called  himself  Bertrand  Burton,  a  servant  of 
mine?" 

"None  that  I  saw.  No  servants  at  all,  that  I  saw/* 

"But  why  did  you  leave  this  trunk  ashore  and  freight  its  neighbor?** 
Ebenezer  demanded.  "They  were  to  go  together  to  the  Poseidon/* 

"  Twas  none  o'  my  doing,"  said  the  mariner  with  g  shrug,  "Mr,  Cooke 
took  his  with  him  when  he  sailed;  the  other  man  sails  tonight  on  a  different 
ship/' 

"Mr.  Cooke!"  cried  Ebeneser.  He  was  about  to  protest  that  he  himself 
was  Ebenezer  Cooke,  Laureate  of  Maryland,  but  thought  better  of  it:  in 
the  first  place,  the  pirates  might  still  be  searching  for  him— the  old  mariner, 
for  all  he  knew,  might  be  in  their  mysterious  employ;  Cooke,  moreover, 
was  a  surname  by  no  means  rare,  and  the  whole  thing  could  well  be  no 
more  than  a  temporary  confusion. 

"Yet,  surely/'  he  ended  by  saying,  "the  man  was  not  Ei*nwr  Cooke, 
Laureate  of  Maryland?" 

But  the  old  man  nodded  "Twas  that  same  gentleman,  the  poetical 
wight" 

"Ffaithr 

"He  wore  black  breeches  like  your  own,"  the  sailor  volunteered,  "and  a 
purple  coat— none  o'  the  cleanest,  for  all  his  lofty  post" 

"Burlingamel"  the  poet  gasped, 

"Nay,  CooSe  it  was.  A  sort  of  poet,  crossing  on  the  Po&idon" 

But  for  what  cause  would  his  friend  assume  his  name  and  leave  him 
stranded  in  the  stable  of  the  King  o'  the  Seas?  Ebeneaer  could  not 
fathom  it 

'Then  prithee,"  he  asked,  with  some  difficulty  and  no  little  apprehension, 
"who  might  that  second  gentleman  be^  the  owner  of  this  tiunk  here,  that 
sails  tonight  on  a  different  vessel?" 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  195  ] 

The  old  man  sucked  his  pipe.  "He'd  not  the  dress  of  a  gentleman/'  he 
declared  at  length,  "nor  yet  a  gentleman's  face,  but  rather  a  brined  and 
weathered  look,  like  any  sailor.  The  others  called  him  Captain,  and  he  them 
likewise." 

Ebenezer  paled.  "Not  Captain  Slye?"  he  asked  fearfully. 
"Aye,  now  you  mention  it,"  the  old  man  said,  "there  was  a  Captain  Slye 
among  their  number." 
"And  Scurry  too?" 

"Aye,  Slye  and  Scurry  they  were,  as  like  as  twins.  They  and  the  third 
came  seeking  the  poetical  gentleman  not  five  full  minutes  after  he'd  sailed, 
as  you've  come  seeking  them.  But  they  went  no  farther  than  the  nearest 
house  for  rum,  where  'tis  likely  you'll  find  'em  yet." 

In  spite  of  himself  Ebenezer  cried  "Heav'n  forfend!"  and  glanced  with 
terror  across  the  street. 

The  old  man  shrugged  again  and  spat  into  the  harbor.  "Haply  there's 
company  more  proper  than  sailors  ashore,"  he  allowed,  "but  none  more 

merry Out  on't!"  he  interrupted  himself.  "You've  but  to  read  the  name 

from  off  his  baggage  there,  where  he  wrote  it  not  ten  minutes  past  I've  not 
the  gift  of  letters  myself,  else  I  had  thought  oft  ere  now." 

Ebenezer  examined  his  friend's  trunk  at  once  and  found  on  one  handle 
a  bit  of  lettered  pasteboard:  C^*  /"*  Coode. 

"Nay!"  His  legs  betrayed  him;  he  was  obliged  to  sit  on  the  trunk  or  dis- 
grace anew  his  fresh-dried  drawers.  "Tell  me  not  'twas  Black  John  Coode!" 
"Black  or  white,  John  or  Jim,  'twas  Coode,"  the  other  affirmed:  "Captain 
Slye,  Captain  Scurry,  and  Captain  Coode.  They're  yonder  in  the  King  o' 
the  Seas." 

Suddenly  Ebenezer  understood  all,  though  his  understanding  little 
calmed  his  fear:  Burlingame,  after  learning  from  Ebenezer  in  the  stable 
about  the  pirates  and  their  quarry,  had  spied  them  and  perhaps  Coode  as 
well  in  the  neighborhood  of  the  tavern  and  realized  that  a  plot  was  afoot 
against  his  charge— who  as  Laureate  to  Lord  Baltimore  was  after  all  a  potent, 
even  a  potentially  deadly  enemy  to  their  seditious  schemes,  for  the  exposure 
of  which  few  better  tools  existed  than  the  knife-edged  Hudibrastic.  What 
nobler  course,  then,  or  more  in  the  spirit  of  faithful  guardianship,  than  to 
change  to  his  original  clothes  again,  declare  himself  the  Laureate  (since, 
clearly,  they  knew  not  their  victim's  face),  and  throw  them  off  the  scent 
by  apparently  embarking,  trunk  and  all,  for  the  Poseidon?  It  was  a  stratagem 
worthy  of  both  the  courage  and  the  resourcefulness  of  his  friend:  an 
adventure  equal  to  his  escape  from  the  pirate  Thomas  Pound  or  his 
interception  of  the  letters  from  Benjamin  RicaudI  Moreover,  it  had  been 


[  196  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

accomplished  at  the  risk  of  his  own  possessions,  which  Coode  seemed  now 
to  have  appropriated.  The  poet's  heart  wanned:  the  solicitude,  the  brave 
self-abnegation  of  his  friend  brought  moisture  to  his  eyes. 

"And  to  think/'  thought  he^  "I  was  the  while  misdoubting  him  from  the 
safety  of  my  horse  stalll" 

Very  well,  he  resolved:  he  would  show  himself  worthy  of  such  high  re- 
gard. "How  is't  you  gave  this  Coode  leave  to  claim  my  trunk?"  he 
demanded  of  the  old  seafarer,  who  had  returned  to  his  pipe  and  meditations. 

"Thy  trunk,  sir?" 

"My  trunk!  Are  you  blind  as  well  as  unlettered,  that  you  failed  to  see  the 
Laureate  and  me  this  morning  when  we  had  our  trunks  put  down  from  the 
London  carriage?" 

"Marry,  I  know  naught  oft,"  the  old  man  declared.  "Tis  my  Joseph 
sails  the  shallop,  my  son  Joseph,  and  I  but  mind  the  berth  til!  he  returns." 

"And  leave  your  client's  trunks  to  any  rogue  that  claims  them?  A  proper 
ferryman  you  are,  and  your  Joseph,  b'm'faithl  This  wretch  John  Coode 
deigns  not  even  to  counterfeit,  but  with  your  aid  robs  openly  in  broad 
daylight,  and  by's  own  name!  I'll  have  the  sheriff!" 

"Nay,  prithee,  sir!"  the  other  cried,  "My  boy  knew  naught  oft,  I  swear, 
nor  did  I  think  to  aid  a  robber!  The  meny  captains  strode  up  bold  as 
brass,  sir,  and  asked  for  the  poetical  gentleman,  and  said  This  chest  is 
Captain  Coode's  and  must  be  on  the  Morphides,  by  sundown,  for  the  Isle 
of  Man/" 

"And  stopped  thy  questions  with  a  guinea,  I  doubt  not?" 

'Two  bob,"  the  sailor  answered  humbly.  "How  might  I  know  the  baggage 
wasn't  his?" 

"Tis  compounding  the  felony  in  any  case,"  Ebeaezer  declared  "Is't 
worth  two  bob  to  breathe  your  last  in  prison?" 

By  dint  of  this  and  similar  threats  Ebenezer  soon  pemiaded  the  old  sailor 
of  his  error.  "Yet  how  may  I  know  'tis  thine,  sir,"  he  nevertheless  inquired, 
"now  youVe  raised  the  question?  Haply  'tis  thou'rt  the  thie^  and  not 
Captain  Coode,  and  who  shall  save  me  then  from  jail?" 

'The  trunk  is  mine  in  trust  alonV  the  poet  replied,  "to  see  it  safely  to 
my  master," 

Thou'rt  a  servingman,  and  chide  me  so?"  The  sailor  set  his  whiskered 
jaw.  "Who  might  your  master  b^  that  dresses  Ws  maa  like  any  St  Paul's 
fop?"  7 

Ebenezer  ignored  the  slur,  "He  is  that  same  poetical  gentleman  who 
took  the  first  trunk  with  him— Ebenezer  Coofce,  the  Lauieate  of  MaiylaacL 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  197  ] 

And  'twill  go  hard  for  you  and  your  loutish  Joseph  should  he  speak  of  this 
nonsense  in  the  right  places/' 

"I'  God,  then  take  the  accursed  box  for  all  of  me!"  the  poor  man  cried, 
and  promised  to  send  trunk  and  servant  together  to  the  Poseidon  as  soon 
as  the  shallop  returned.  "Yet  prithee  show  me  just  one  proof  or  token  of 
your  post/'  he  begged,  "to  ease  my  heart:  for  how  shall  I  fare  at  the  hands 
of  the  three  captains,  if  thou'rt  the  thief  and  they  the  owners?" 

"Never  fear/'  Ebenezer  said.  "I  shall  show  you  proof  enough  in  two 
minutes:  page  upon  page  of  the  Laureate's  writing."  He  had  just  remem- 
bered, with  a  mixture  of  concern  and  relief,  that  his  notebook  was  yet  in 
the  horse  stall.  But  the  old  man  shook  his  head.  "Were't  branded  on  your 
arse  in  crimson  letters  or  graven  like  the  Tables  of  the  Law  I'd  not  make 
ftog  nor  dog  oft." 

"Try  my  patience  no  more,  old  man!"  the  poet  warned.  "The  veriest 
numskull  knows  a  poem  by  the  look  oft,  whether  he  grasp  the  sense  or  no. 
I'll  show  you  verses  fit  for  the  ears  of  the  gods,  and  there's  an  end  to  your 
caviling!"  Charging  the  mariner  as  sternly  as  he  could  to  safeguard 
Burlingame's  trunk  and  to  ready  the  shallop,  should  it  return,  for  instant 
sailing,  he  made  his  way  in  a  great  arc  across  the  street,  giving  a  wide  berth 
to  the  entrance  of  the  King  o'  the  Seas,  traversed  again  the  alleyway  leading 
to  the  back  yard  of  the  ordinary,  and  with  pounding  heart  re-entered  the 
familiar  stable,  expecting  at  any  moment  to  meet  tie  horrendous  trio  of 
captains.  He  hastened  to  the  stall  in  which  he'd  composed  his  nautical 
verses:  there  in  the  straw,  where  in  embarrassment  and  haste  he'd  left  it, 
was  the  precious  ledger.  He  snatched  it  up.  Had  that  stableboy,  perhaps, 
defaced  it,  or  filched  a  sheaf  of  pages?  No,  it  was  intact,  and  in  good  order. 

"And  reckless  best  both  Wind  and  Tide"  he  quoted  from  the  page,  and 
sighed  with  pleasure  at  his  own  artistry.  "It  hath  the  very  sound  of  toss  and 
tempest!" 

But  there  was  no  time  then  for  such  delights;  the  shallop  might  be  moor- 
ing at  that  very  moment,  and  the  villains  in  the  tavern  would  not  drink 
rum  forever.  With  all  possible  speed  he  scanned  the  remaining  stanza  of 
the  morning— those  seven  or  eight  couplets  describing  the  shipboard  feast. 
He  sighed  again,,  tucked  the  book  under  his  arm,  and  hurried  out  of  the 
stable  into  the  courtyard. 

"Stay,  Master  Poet,  or  thou'rt  dead,"  said  a  voice  behind  him,  and  he 
whirled  about  to  face  a  brace  of  black-garbed  fiends  from  Hell,  each  with 
his  left  hand  leaning  on  an  ebon  cane  and  his  right  aiming  a  pistol  at  the 
poet's  chest. 

"Doubly  dead,"  the  other  added. 


[  198  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTO* 

Ebenezer  could  not  speak. 

''Shall  I  send  a  ball  through  his  Romish  heart,  Captain  Scurry,  and  spare 
ye  the  powder?" 

"Nay,  thankee,  Captain  Stye,"  replied  the  other,  "Twas  Captain 
Coode's  desire  to  see  whatever  queer  fish  might  strike  the  bait,  ere  we  have 
his  gullet.  But  the  pleasure's  thine  when  that  hour  comes," 

'Tour  servant,  Captain  Scurry,"  said  Captain  Siye*  "Inside  with  ye* 
Cooke,  or  my  ball's  in  thy  belly," 

But  Ebenezer  could  not  move.  At  length,  belting  their  pistols  as  un- 
necessary, his  fearsome  escorts  took  each  an  elbow  and  propelled  him,  half 
a-swoon,  to  the  rear  door  of  the  ordinary. 

"For  God's  sake  spare  mel"  he  croaked,  his  eyes  shut  fast 

"  'Tis  not  that  gentleman  can  do't>"  said  one  of  his  captors.  *The  man 
we're  fetching  ye  to  is  the  man  to  dicker  with." 

They  entered  into  a  kind  of  pantry  or  storage  room*  and  one  of  his 
captors— the  one  called  Stye— went  ahead  to  open  another  door,  which  led 
into  the  steamy  kitchen  of  the  King  o*  the  Seas. 

"Ahoy,  John  Coode!"  he  bellowed.  "We've  caught  ye  your  poet!" 

Ebenezer  then  was  given  such  a  push  from  behind  that  he  slipped  on 
the  greasy  tiles  and  fell  asprawl  beside  a  round  table  in  the  center  of  the 
room,  directly  at  the  feet  of  the  man  who  sat  them.  Everyone  laughed: 
Captain  Scurry,  who  had  pushed  him;  Captain  Slye,  who  stood  nearby; 
some  woman  whom,  since  her  feet  dangled  just  before  his  eyes,  Ebenezer 
judged  to  be  sitting  in  Coode's  lap;  and  Coode  himself.  Tremblingly  the 
poet  looked  up  and  saw  that  the  woman  was  the  fickle  Dolly,  who  sat  with 
her  arms  about  the  archfiend's  neck. 

Then,  as  fearfully  as  though  expecting  Lucifer  himself,  he  turned  his 
eyes  to  John  Coode,  What  he  saw  was,  if  rather  less  horrendous,  not  a  whit 
less  astonishing:  the  smiling  face  of  Henry  Burlingame. 


10:    THE   LAUREATE   SUFFERS   LITERARY   CRITICISM 
AND  BOARDS  THE  POSEIDON 


His  friend's  smile  vanished.  He  pushed  the  barmaid  off  his  lap,  sprang 
scowling  to  his  feet,  and  pulled  Ebenezer  up  by  his  shirtfroat 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  199  ] 

"You  blockhead!"  he  said  angrily,  before  the  poet  could  say  more,  "Who 
gave  ye  leave  to  sneak  about  the  stables?  I  told  ye  to  scour  the  docks  for 
that  fool  poet!" 

Ebenezer  was  too  surprised  to  speak. 

''This  is  my  man  Henry  Cook,"  Burlingame  said  to  the  black  captains. 
"Can  ye  not  tell  a  poet  from  a  common  servant?" 

"Your  man?"  cried  Captain  Scurry.  "I'faith,  'tis  the  same  shitten  puppy 
was  annoying  us  this  morning— is't  not,  Captain  Slye?" 

"Aye  and  it  is,"  said  Captain  Slye.  "What's  more,  he  was  scribbling  in 
that  very  book  there,  that  ye  claim  is  the  poet's." 

Burlingame  turned  on  Ebenezer  again,  raising  his  hand.  "I've  a  mind 
to  box  thy  lazy  ears!  Idling  in  a  tavern  when  I  ordered  ye  to  the  docks! 
Small  wonder  the  Laureate  escaped  us!  How  came  ye  by  the  notebook?" 
he  demanded,  and  when  Ebenezer  (though  he  began  to  comprehend  that 
his  friend  was  protecting  him)  was  unable  to  think  of  a  reply,  added;  "I  sup- 
pose ye  found  it  among  our  man's  baggage- on  the  wharf  and  marked  it  a 
find  worth  drinking  to?" 

"Aye,"  Ebenezer  managed  to  say.  "That  is— aye." 

"Ah  God,  what  a  lout!"  Burlingame  de'clared  to  the  others.  "Every 
minute  at  the  bottle,  and  he  holds  his  rum  no  better  than  an  altar-boy.  I 
suppose  ye  took  ill  oft,  then"— he  sneered  at  Ebenezer— "and  puked  out 
your  belly  in  the  stable?" 

The  poet  nodded  and,  daring  finally  to  trust  his  voice,  he  asserted,  "I 
woke  but  an  hour  past  and  ran  to  the  wharf,  but  the  Laureate's  trunk  was 
gone.  Then  I  remembered  I'd  left  the  notebook  in  the  stable  and  came 
to  fetch  it." 

Burlingame  threw  up  his  hands  to  the  captains  as  in  despair.  "And  to 
you  this  wretch  hath  the  look  of  Maryland's  Laureate?  I  aim  surrounded 
by  fools!  Fetch  us  two  drams  and  something  to  eat,  Dolly,"  he  ordered, 
"and  all  of  you  begone  save  my  precious  addlepate  here.  I've  words  for 
him." 

Captain  Slye  and  Captain  Scurry  exited  crestfallen,  and  Dolly,  who  had 
attended  the  whole  scene  indifferently,  went  out  to  pour  the  drinks. 
Ebenezer  fairly  collapsed  into  a  chair  and  clutched  at  Burlingame's  coat 
sleeve. 

"Dear  God!"  he  whispered.  "What  is  this  all  about?  Why  is't  you  pose 
as  Coode,  and  why  leave  me  shivering  all  day  in  the  stable?" 
"Softly,"  Henry  warned,  looking  over  his  shoulder.  "  Tis  a  ticklish  spot 


[200]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

we're  in,  albeit  a  useful  one.  Have  faith  in  me:  I  shall  lay  it  open  plainly 
when  I  can." 

The  barmaid  returned  with  two  glasses  of  rum  and  a  plate  of  cold  veal. 
"Send  Slye  and  Scurry  to  the  wharf,"  he  directed  her,  "and  tell  them  I'll 
be  on  the  Morphides  by  sundown." 

"Can  you  trust  her?"  Ebenezer  asked  when  she  had  gone.  "Surely  she 
knows  thou'rt  not  John  Coode,  after  this  morning." 

Burlingame  smiled.  "She  knows  her  part.  Fall  to,  now,  and  Fll  tell  you 
yours." 

Ebenezer  did  as  advised— he'd  had  no  food  all  day— and  was  somewhat 
calmed  by  the  rum,  which,  however,  made  him  shudder.  Burlingame  peered 
through  a  crack  in  the  door  leading  into  the  main  hall  of  the  King  o'  the 
Seas,  and  apparently  satisfied  that  none  could  overhear,  explained  his  posi- 
tion thus: 

"Directly  I  left  you  this  morning  I  went  straightway  to  the  dock  to  fetch 
fresh  breeches,  pondering  all  the  while  what  you  had  told  me  of  the  two 
pirate  captains.  Twas  my  surmise  they  were  no  pirates,  the  more  for  that 
'twas  you  they  sought— what  use  would  a  pirate  have  for  a  poet?  Yet,  from 
your  picture  of  them,  their  manner  and  their  quest,  I  had  another  thought, 
no  less  alarming,  which  I  soon  saw  to  be  the  truth,  Your  two  black 
scoundrels  were  there  on  the  very  dock  where  stood  our  chests,  and  I  knew 
them  at  once  for  Slye  and  Scurry,  two  smugglers  that  have  worked  for 
Coode  before,  'Twas  clear  Coode  knew  of  your  appointment  and  meant 
you  no  good,  though  what  his  motives  were  I  could  but  guess;  'twas  clear 
as  well  your  hunters  did  not  know  their  quarry's  face  and  could  be  lightly 
gulled.  They  were  speaking  with  the  lad  that  sails  the  shallop;  I  made  bold 
to  crouch  behind  our  trunks  and  heard  the  ferryman  say  that  you  and  your 
companion  were  in  the  King  o'  the  Seas— happily  I'd  given  him  no  name. 
Slye  said  'twas  impossible,  inasmuch  as  but  a  short  time  since  they'd  been 
in  the  King  o'  the  Seas,  and  had  run  out  on  seeing  their  victim  in  the  street 
but  had  lost  him." 

"Aye,  just  so,"  Ebenezer  said.  "Tis  the  last  thing  I  recall.  But  whom 
they  spied  I  cannot  guess." 

"Nor  could  I,  Yet  the  ferryman  held  to  his  stoty,  and  at  length  Slye 
proposed  another  search  of  the  tavern.  But  Scurry  protested  'twas  time  to 
fetch  John  Coode  from  off  the  fleet/' 

"Coode  aboard  the  fleet!" 

"Aye,"  Burlingame  declared.  'This  and  other  things  they  said  gave  tne 
to  believe  that  Coode  hath  sailed  disguised  frpm  London  on  the  very  man- 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  201  ] 

o'-war  with  the  Governor  and  his  company,  who  joined  the  fleet  this  morn- 
ing. No  doubt  he  fears  for  his  cause,  and  wished  to  see  first-hand  what 
favor  his  enemies  have  with  Nicholson.  Then,  I  gathered,  Slye  and  Scurry 
were  to  meet  him  in  the  Downs  and  fetch  him  to  their  own  ship,  which 
sails  tonight  for  the  Isle  of  Man  and  thence  to  Maryland." 

"I'God,  the  boldness  of  the  man!"  exclaimed  the  poet 

Burlingame  smiled.  "You  think  he's  bold?  Tis  no  long  voyage  from  Lon- 
don to  Plymouth." 

"But  under  Nicholson's  very  nose!  In  the  company  of  the  very  men  he'd 
driven  from  the  Province!" 

"Yet  as  I  crouched  this  while  behind  our  baggage,"  Burlingame  said, 

"an  even  bolder  notion  struck  me But  first  I  must  tell  you  one  other 

thing  I  heard.  Scurry  asked  Slye,  How  would  they  know  their  leader  in 
disguise,  when  they'd  seen  not  even  his  natural  face?  And  Slye  proposed 
they  use  a  kind  of  password  employed  by  Coode's  men  before  the  revolu- 
tion, to  discover  whether  a  third  party  was  one  of  their  number.  Now  it 
happened  I  knew  two  passwords  very  well  from  the  old  days  when  I'd 
feigned  to  be  a  rebel:  In  one  the  first  man  asks  his  confederate,  'How  doth 
your  friend  Jim  sit  his  mare  these  days?'  By  which  is  meant,  How  sure  is 
King  James's  tenure  on  the  throne?  The  second  then  replies,  'I  fear  me 
he'll  be  thrown;  he  wants  a  better  mare/  And  the  third  man,  if  he  be  privy 
to  the  game,  will  say,  'Haply  'tis  the  mare  wants  a  better  rider.'  The  other 
was  for  use  when  a  man  wished  to  make  himself  known  to  a  party  of 
strangers  as  a  rebel:  he  would  approach  them  on  the  street  or  in  a  tavern 
and  say  "Have  you  seen  my  friend,  that  wears  an  orange  cravat?'  That  is 
to  say,  the  speaker  is  a  friend  of  the  House  of  Orange.  One  of  the  party 
then  cries,  'Marry,  will  you  mark  the  man!'  which  is  a  pun  on  Queen 
Mary  and  King  William. 

"On  hearing  their  plans,"  Burlingame  went  on,  "I  resolved  at  once  to 
thwart  'em:  my  first  thought  was  for  you  and  me  to  pose  as  Slye  and  Scurry, 
fetch  Coode  from  off  the  man-o'-war,  and  in  some  wise  detain  him  till  we 
learned  his  plans  and  why  he  wanted  you." 

"  'Swounds!  Twould  never  have  succeeded!" 

"That  may  be,"  Burlingame  admitted.  "In  any  case,  though  I'd  learned 
that  Slye  and  Scurry  did  not  know  Coode,  it  did  not  follow  they  were 
strangers  to  him— indeed,  they  are  a  famous  pair  of  rascals.  For  that  reason 
I  decided  to  be  John  Coode  again,  as  once  before  on  Peregrine  Browne's 
ship.  I  stepped  around  the  trunks  and  inquired  after  my  friend  with  the 
orange  cravat" 


[202]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

Ebenezer  expressed  his  astonishment  and  asked  whether,  considering 
that  Burlingame  wore  the  dress  of  a  servant  and  that  Coode  was  supposed 
to  be  aboard  the  man-o'-war,  the  move  were  not  for  all  its  daring  ill-advised. 
His  friend  replied  that  Coode  was  known  to  be  given  to  unusual  dress- 
priest's  robes,  minister's  frocks,  and  various  military  uniforms,  for  example 
—and  that  it  was  in  fact  quite  characteristic  of  him  to  appear  as  if  from 
nowhere  among  his  cohorts  and  disappear  similarly,  with  such  unexpected- 
ness that  not  a  few  of  the  more  credulous  believed  him  to  have  occult 
powers. 

"At  least  they  believed  me,"  he  said,  "once  they  had  composed  them- 
selves again,  and  I  gave  'em  small  chance  to  question.  I  feigned  displeasure 
at  their  tardiness,  and  fell  into  a  great  rage  when  they  said  the  Laureate  had 
slipped  their  halter.  By  the  most  discreet  interrogation  (for  'twas  necessary 
to  act  as  if  I  knew  more  than  they)  I  was  able  to  piece  together  an  odd 
tale,  which  still  I  cannot  fully  fathom:  Slye  and  Scurry  had  come  from 
London  with  some  wight  who  claimed  to  be  Ebenezer  Cooke;  on  orders 
from  Coode  they'd  posed  as  Maryland  planters  and  escorted  the  false 
Laureate  to  Plymouth,  where  I  fancy  they  meant  to  put  him  on  the 
Morphides  for  some  sinister  purpose— belike  they  thought  him  a  spy  of 
Baltimore's.  But  whoe'er  the  fellow  was  he  must  have  smelled  the  plot,  for 
he  slipped  their  clutches  sometime  this  morning. 

"Now,  think  not  I'd  forgotten  you,"  he  went  on;  "I  feared  you'd  find 
some  other  clothes  and  show  yourself  at  any  moment.  Therefore  I  led  Slye 
and  Scurry  to  a  tavern  up  the  street  for  rum  and  detained  them  as  long  as 
possible,  trying  to  hatch  a  plan  for  sending  you  a  message.  Every  few  min- 
utes I  looked  down  towards  the  wharf,  pretending  to  seek  a  servant  of 
mine,  and  when  at  last  I  saw  your  trunk  was  gone  I  guessed  you'd  gone 
alone  to  the  Poseidon.  Anon,  when  we  walked  this  way  agpin,  the  old  man 
at  the  wharf  confirmed  that  Eben  Cooke  had  sailed  off  in  the  shallop  with 
his  trunk." 

Ebenezer  shook  his  head  in  wonder.  "But " 

"Stay,  till  I  finish.  We  came  here  then  to  pass  the  time  till  evening;  I 
was  quite  sure  of  your  safety,  and  planned  simply  to  send  a  message  to 
you  by  the  shallop-man,  so  you'd  not  think  I'd  betrayed  you  or  fallen  into 
peril.  When  Dolly  told  me  your  notebook  was  in  the  stable  I  swore  to  Slye 
and  Scurry  we'd  catch  you  yet,  inasmuch  as  a  poet  will  go  to  Hell  for  his 
no!:ebook,  and  stationed  them  to  watch  the  stall  for  your  return— in  fact  I 
planned  to  send  the  book  along  to  you  anon  with  my  message  in  it,  and 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  203  ] 

used  the  stratagem  merely  to  rid  myself  for  a  time  of  those  twin  apes. 
Imagine  my  alarm  when  they  fetched  you  in!" 

Ebenezer  remembered,  with  some  discomfort,  the  scene  his  entrance  had 
interrupted. 

"  Tis  too  fantastic  for  words,"  he  declared.  "You  thought  'twas  I  had 
gone,  and  I  'twas  you— I  say,  the  fellow  was  wearing  your  coat!" 

"What?  Impossible!" 

"Nay,  I'm  certain  oft.  The  old  man  at  the  dock  described  it:  a  soiled 
port-purple  coat  and  black  breeches.  Twas  for  that  I  guessed  it  to  be  you." 

"Dear  God!  Tis  marvelous!"  He  laughed  aloud.  "What  a  comedy!" 

Ebenezer  confessed  his  ignorance  of  the  joke. 

"Only  think  on't!"  his  friend  exclaimed.  "When  Slye  and  Scurry  came 
looking  for  their  Laureate  this  morning  and  made  sport  of  you,  not  knowing 
you  were  he,  Dolly  and  I  had  gone  back  yonder  in  the  stable  to  play:  in  the 
first  stall  we  ran  to  we  found  some  poor  wight  sleeping,  a  servingman  by 
the  look  of  him,  and  'twas  he  I  traded  clothes  with  on  the  spot.  Right 
pleased  he  was  to  make  the  trade,  too!" 

"  'Sheart,  you  mean  it  was  the  false  Laureate?" 

"Who  else,  if  the  man  you  heard  of  wore  my  coat?  Belike  he'd  just  fled 
Slye  and  Scurry  and  was  hiding  from  them." 

"Then  'twas  he  they  saw  go  past  the  window  after,  which  saved  my  life!" 

"No  doubt  it  was;  and  learning  of  your  trunk  he  must  have  made  off 
with't.  A  daring  fellow!" 

"He'll  not  get  far,"  Ebenezer  said  grimly.  "I'll  have  him  off  the  ship 
the  instant  we're  aboard." 

Burlingame  pursed  his  lips,  but  said  nothing. 

"What's  wrong,  Henry?" 

"You  plan  to  sail  on  the  Poseidon?'9  Burlingame  asked. 

"Of  course!  What's  to  prevent  our  slipping  off  right  now,  while  Slye  and 
Scurry  wait  us  on  their  ship?" 

"You  forget  my  duty." 

Ebenezer  raised  his  eyebrows.  "Is't  I  or  you  that  have  forgot?" 

"Look  here,  dear  Eben,"  Burlingame  said  warmly.  "I  know  not  who 
this  impostor  is,  but  I'll  warrant  he's  merely  some  pitiful  London  coxcomb 
out  to  profit  by  your  fame.  Let  him  be  Eben  Cooke  on  the  Poseidon: 
haply  the  Captain  will  see  the  imposture  and  clap  him  in  irons,  or  mavbe 
Coode  will  murther  or  corrupt  him,  since  they're  in  the  same  fleet.  Even  if 
he  cany  the  fraud  to  Maryland  we  can  meet  him  at  the  wharf  with  the 


[204]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

sheriff,  and  there's  an  end  to't.  Meanwhile  your  trunk  is  safely  stowed  in 
the  ship's  hold— he  cannot  touch  it/' 

"Then  'fore  God,  Henry,  what  is't  you  propose?" 

"I  know  not  what  John  Coode  hath  up  his  sleeve/'  said  Burlingame,  "nor 
doth  Lord  Baltimore  nor  any  man  else.  Tis  certain  he's  alarmed  at 
Nicholson's  appointment  and  fears  for  his  own  foul  cause;  methinks  he 
plans  to  land  before  the  fleet,  but  whether  to  cover  all  traces  of  his  former 
mischief  or  to  sow  the  seeds  for  more  I  cannot  guess,  nor  what  exactly  he 
plans  for  you.  I  mean  to  carry  on  my  role  as  Coode  and  sail  to  Maryland 
on  the  Morphides,  with  my  trusted  servant  Henry  Cook/' 

"Ah  no,  Henry!  Tis  absurd!" 

Burlingame  shrugged  and  filled  his  pipe.  'We'd  steal  a  march  on  Coode/* 
he  said,  "and  haply  scotch  his  plot  to  boot/' 

He  went  on  to  explain  that  Captains  Slye  and  Scurry  were  engaged  in 
smuggling  tobacco  duty-free  into  England  by  means  of  the  re-export  device; 
that  is,  they  registered  their  cargo  and  paid  duty  on  it  at  an  English  port  of 
entry,  then  reclaimed  the  duty  by  re-exporting  the  tobacco  to  the  nearby 
Isle  of  Man— technically  a  foreign  territory— whence  it  could  be  run  with 
ease  into  either  England  or  Ireland.  "We  could  work  their  ruin  as  well,  by 
deposing  against  them  the  minute  we  land.  What  a  victory  for  Lord 
Baltimorel" 

Ebenezer  shook  his  head  in  awe,  ' 

"Well,  come  now!"  his  friend  cried  after  a  moment,  "Surely  thou'rt  not 
afraid?  Thou'rt  not  so  distraught  about  this  idle  impostor?" 

"To  speak  truly,  I  am  distraught  on  his  account,  Henry.  Tis  not  that  he 
improves  his  state  at  my  expense— had  he  robbed  me,  I'd  be  nothing  much 
alarmed.  But  he  hath  robbed  me  of  myself;  he  hath  poached  upon  my  very 
being!  I  cannot  permit  it/' 

"Oh  la,"  scoffed  Burlingame.  "Thou'rt  talking  schoolish  tot  What  is  this 
coin,  thy  self,  and  how  hath  he  possessed  it?" 

Ebenezer  reminded  his  friend  of  their  first  colloquy  in  the  carriage  from 
London,  wherein  he  had  laid  open  the  nature  of  his  double  essence  as 
virgin  and  poet— that  essence  the  realization  of  which,  after  his  rendezvous 
with  Joan  Toast,  had  brought  him  into  focus,  if  not  actually  into  being, 
and  the  preservation  and  assertion  of  which  was  therefore  his  cardinal  value, 
"Ne'er  again  shall  I  flee  from  myself,  or  in  anywise  disguise  it/'  he 
concluded. "  Twas  just  such  cowardice  caused  my  shame  this  morning,  and 
like  an  omen  'twas  only  my  return  to  this  true  self  that  brought  me  through. 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  205  ] 

I  was  cleansed  by  songs  unborn  and  passed  those  anxious  hours  with  the 
muse/' 

Burlingame  confessed  his  inability  to  grasp  the  metaphor,  and  so  the 
poet  explained  in  simple  language  that  he  had  used  four  blank  pages  of 
his  notebook  to  clean  himself  with  and  had  filled  another  two  with  sea- 
poetry. 

"I  swore  then  never  to  betray  myself  again,  Henry:  'twas  only  my  sur- 
prise allowed  this  last  deception.  Should  Slye  and  Scurry  come  upon  us 
now,  I'd  straightway  declare  my  true  identity." 

"And  straightway  take  a  bullet  in  thy  silly  head?  Thou'rt  a  fool!" 

"I  am  a  poet/'  Ebenezer  replied,  mustering  his  failing  courage,  "Let 
him  who  dares  deny  it!  Besides  which,  even  were  there  no  impostor  to 
confront,  'twould  yet  be  necessary  to  cross  on  the  Poseidon:  all  my  verses 
name  that  vessel."  He  opened  his  notebook  to  the  morning's  work.  "Hear 
this,  now: 

"Let  Ocean  roar  his  damnedest  Gale: 
Our  Planks  shan't  leak;  our  Masts  shan't  fail. 
With  great  Poseidon  at  our  Side 
He  seemeth  neither  wild  nor  wide. 

"Morphides  would  spoil  the  meter,  to  say  nothing  of  the  conceit." 

"The  conceit  is  spoiled  already,"  Burlingame  said  sourly.  "The  third  line 
puts  you  overboard,  and  the  last  may  be  read  as  well  to  Poseidon  as  to 
Ocean.  As  for  the  meter,  there's  naught  to  keep  you  from  preserving  the 
name  Poseidon  though  you're  sailing  on  the  Morphides" 

"Nay,  'twere  not  the  same,"  Ebenezer  insisted,  a  little  hurt  by  his 
friend's  hostility.  "  'Tis  the  true  and  only  Poseidon  I  describe: 

44 A  noble  Ship,  from  Deck  to  Peaks, 
Akin  to  those  that  Homers  Greeks 
SaiVd  east  to  Troy  in  Days  of  Yore, 
As  we  saiVd  now  to  MARYLANDS  Shore." 

'Thou'rt  sailing  west,"  Burlingame  observed,  even  more  sourly.  "And 
the  Poseidon  is  a  rat's  nest" 

"Still  greater  cause  for  me  to  board  her,"  the  poet  declared  in  an  injured 
tone,  "else  I  might  describe  her  wrongly." 

"Fogh!  'Tis  a  late  concern  for  fact  you  plead,  is't  not?  Methinks  'twere 
childsplay  for  you  to  make  Poseidon  from  the  Morphides,  if  you  can  make 
him  from  a  livery  stable." 

Ebenezer  closed  his  Notebook  and  rose  to  his  feet.  "I  know  not  why 


[  206  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

thou'rt  set  on  injuring  me,"  he  said  sadly.  "  Tis  your  prerogative  to  flout 
Lord  Baltimore's  directive,  but  will  you  scorn  our  friendship  too,  to  have 
your  way?  Tis  not  as  if  I'd  asked  you  to  go  with  me— though  Heav'n 
knows  I  need  your  guidance!  But  Coode  or  no  Coode,  I  will  have  it  out 
with  this  impostor  and  sail  to  Maryland  on  the  Poseidon:  if  you  will  pursue 
your  reckless  plot  at  any  cost  adieu,  and  pray  God  we  shall  meet  again  at 
Maiden," 

Burlingame  at  this  appeared  to  relent  somewhat:  though  he  would  not 
abandon  his  scheme  to  sail  with  Slye  and  Scurry,  he  apologized  for  his 
acerbity  and,  finding  Ebenezer  equally  resolved  to  board  the  Poseidon, 
he  bade  him  warm,  if  reluctant,  farewell  and  swore  he  had  no  mind  to 
flout  his  orders  from  Lord  Baltimore. 

"Whate'er  I  do,  I  do  with  you  in  mind,"  he  declared.  "Tis  Coode's 
plot  against  you  I  must  thwart.  Think  not  I'll  e'er  forsake  you,  Eben:  one 
way  or  another  I'll  be  your  guide  and  savior." 

"Till  Maiden,  then?"  Ebenezer  asked  with  great  tears  in  his  eyes. 

"Till  Maiden,"  Burlingame  affirmed,  and  after  a  final  handshake  the 
poet  passed  through  the  pantry  and  out  the  rear  door  of  the  King  OT  the 
Seas,  in  great  haste  lest  the  fleet  depart  without  him. 

Luckily  he  found  the  shallop  at  its  pier,  making  ready  for  another  trip* 
Not  until  he  noticed  Burlingame's  chest  among  the  other  freight  aboard 
did  he  remember  that  he  had  posed  as  a  manservant  to  the  Laureate,  and 
repellent  as  was  the  idea  of  maintaining  the  deception,  he  realized  with  a 
sigh  that  it  would  be  folly  now  to  reveal  his  true  identity,  for  the  ensuing 
debate  could  well  cause  him  to  miss  the  boat 

"Hi,  there!"  he  called,  for  the  old  man  was  slipping  oS  the  mooring- 
lines.  "Wait  for  me!" 

"Aha,  'tis  the  poet's  young  dandy,  is  it?"  said  the  man  Joseph,  who  stood 
in  the  stern.  "We  had  near  left  ye  high  and  dry." 

Breathing  hard  from  his  final  sprint  along  the  dock,  Ebenezer  boarded 
the  shallop.  "Stay,"  he  ordered.  "Make  fast  your  lines  a  moment" 

"Nonsense!"  laughed  the  sailor.  "We're  late  as't  is!" 

But  Ebenezer  declared,  to  the  great  disgust  of  father  and  son  alike,  that 
he  had  made  an  error  before,  which  he  now  sincerely  regretted:  in  his 
eagerness  to  serve  his  master  he  had  mistaken  Captain  Coode's  trunk  for 
the  one  committed  to  his  charge.  He  would  be  happy  to  pay  feny-fxaght 
on  it  anyway,  since  they  had  been  at  the  labor  of  loading  it  aboard;  but  the 
trunk  must  be  returned  to  the  pier  before  Captain  Coode  learned  of  the 
matter. 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [207] 

"  Tis  an  indulgent  master  will  suffer  such  a  fool  to  serve  him/'  Joseph 
observed;  but  nevertheless,  with  appropriate  grunts  and  curses  the  transfer 
was  effected,  and  upon  receipt  of  an  extra  shilling  apiece  by  way  of  gratuity, 
the  ferrymen  cast  off  their  lines  once  more— the  old  man  going  along  as 
well  this  trip,  for  the  wind  had  risen  somewhat  since  early  afternoon.  The 
son,  Joseph,  pushed  off  from  the  bow  with  a  pole,  ran  up  the  jib  to  luff  in 
the  breeze,  close-hauled  and  sheeted  home  the  mainsail,  and  went  forward 
again  to  belay  the  jib  sheet;  his  father  put  the  tiller  down  hard,  the  sails 
filled,  and  the  shallop  gained  way  in  the  direction  of  the  Downs,  heeling 
gently  on  a  larboard  tack.  The  poets  heart  shivered  with  excitement;  the 
salt  wind  brought  the  blood  to  his  brow  and  made  his  stomach  flutter. 
After  some  minutes  of  sailing  he  was  able  to  see  the  fleet  against  the  lower- 
ing sun:  half  a  hundred  barks,  snows,  ketches,  brigs,  and  full-rigged  ships 
all  anchored  in  a  loose  cluster  around  the  man-o'-war  that  would  escort 
them  through  pirate-waters  to  the  Virginia  Capes,  whence  they  would  pro- 
ceed to  their  separate  destinations.  On  closer  view  the  vessels  could  be  seen 
bristling  with  activity:  lighters  and  ferries  of  every  description  shuttled  from 
ship  to  shore  and  ship  to  ship  with  last-minute  passengers  and  cargo;  sailors 
toiled  in  the  rigging  bending  sails  to  the  spars;  officers  shouted  a-low  and 
aloft, 

"Which  is  the  Poseidon?"  he  asked  joyously. 

"Yonder,  off  to  starboard/'  The  old  man  pointed  with  his  pipestem  to  a 
ship  anchored  some  quarter  of  a  mile  away  on  their  right,  to  windward;  the 
next  tack  would  bring  them  to  her.  A  ship  of  perhaps  two  hundred  tons, 
broad  of  bow  and  square  of  stern,  fo'c'sle  and  poop  high  over  the  main 
deck,  fore,  main,  and  mizzen  with  yards  and  topmasts  all,  the  Poseidon 
was  not  greatly  different  in  appearance  from  the  other  vessels  of  her  class 
in  the  fleet:  indeed,  if  anything  she  was  less  prepossessing.  To  the  seasoned 
eye  her  frayed  halyards,  ill-tarred  shrouds,  rusty  chain  plates,  "Irish  pen- 
nants," and  general  slovenliness  bespoke  old  age  and  careless  usage.  But 
to  Ebenezer  she  far  outshone  her  neighbors.  "Majesticl"  he  exclaimed,  and 
scarce  could  wait  to  board  her.  When  at  last  they  completed  the  tack  and 
made  fast  alongside,  he  scrambled  readily  up  the  ladder— a  feat  that  would 
as  a  rule  have  been  beyond  him— and  saluted  the  deck  officer  with  a  cheery 
good  day. 

"May  I  enquire  your  name,  sir?"  asked  that  worthy. 

"Indeed,"  the  poet  replied,  bowing  slightly.  "I  am  Ebenezer  Cooke,  Poet 
and  Laureate  of  the  Province  of  Maryland.  My  passage  is  already  hired." 


[208]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

The  officer  beckoned  to  a  pair  of  husky  sailors  standing  nearby,  and 
Ebenezer  found  both  his  arms  held  fast. 

"What  doth  this  mean?"  he  cried.  Everyone  on  the  Poseidon's  deck 
turned  to  watch  the  scene. 

"Let  us  test  whether  he  can  swim  as  grandly  as  he  lies/'  the  officer  said. 
"Throw  the  wretch  o'er  the  side,  boys/' 

"Desist!"  the  poet  commanded.  "I  shall  have  the  Captain  flog  the  lot  of 
you!  I  am  Ebenezer  Cooke,  I  said;  by  order  of  Lord  Baltimore  Poet  and 
Laureate  of  Maryland!" 

"I  see/'  said  the  officer,  smiling  uncordially.  "And  hath  His  Laureateship 
anyone  to  vouch  for  his  identity?  Surely  the  gentlemen  and  ladies  among 
the  passengers  must  know  their  Laureatel" 

"Of  course  I  can  bring  proof,"  said  Ebenezer,  "though  it  seems  to  me 

'tis  you  should  bear  the  burden!  I  have  a  friend  ashore  who "  He 

stopped,  recalling  Burlingame's  disguise. 

"Who  will  swear  to't  through  his  teeth,  for  all  you've  bribed  him/'  de- 
clared the  officer. 

"He  lies,"  said  the  young  man  Joseph  from  the  shallop,  who  had  climbed 
aboard  behind  Ebenezer.  "He  told  me  he  was  a  servant  of  the  Laureate's, 
and  now  I  doubt  e'en  that.  What  servant  would  pretend  to  be  his  master, 
when  his  master's  near  at  hand?" 

"Nay,  you  mistake  me!"  Ebenezer  protested.  "The  man  who  calls  him- 
self Ebenezer  Cooke  is  an  impostor,  I  swear't!  Fetch  the  knave  out,  that 
I  may  look  him  in  the  eye  and  curse  him  for  a  fraud!" 

"He  is  in  his  cabin  writing  verse,"  the  officer  replied,  "and  shan't  be 
bothered/'  To  the  sailors  he  said,  "Throw  him  o'er  the  side  and  be  damned 
to  him." 

"Stay!  Stay!"  Ebenezer  shrieked.  He  wished  with  all  his  heart  he  were  at 
the  King  o'  the  Seas  with  Burlingame.  "I  can  prove  the  man's  deceiving 
you!  I  have  a  commission  from  Lord  Baltimore  himself!" 

"Then  prithee  show  it,"  the  officer  invited  with  a  smil^  "and  I  shall 
throw  the  other  wight  o'er  the  side  instead." 

"Dear  God!"  the  poet  groaned,  the  facts  dawning  on  him*  "I  have  mis- 
laid it!  Belike  'tis  in  my  chest  somewhere,  below." 

"Belike  it  is,  since  the  chest  is  Mr.  Cooke's.  In  any  case  'tis  not  mislaid, 
for  I  have  seen  it— the  Laureate  produced  it  on  request  by  way  of  voucher. 
Toss  the  lout  over!" 

But  Ebenezer,  realizing  his  predicament,  fell  to  his  knees  on  the  deck 
and  embraced  the  officer's  legs.  "Nay,  I  pray  you,  do  not  drown  me!  I  own 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  209  ] 

I  sought  to  fool  you,  good  masters,  but  'twas  only  a  simple  prank,  a  mere 
April  Foolery.  I  am  the  Laureate's  servant,  e'en  as  this  gentleman 
affirmed,  and  have  the  Laureate's  notebook  here  to  prove  it.  Take  me  to 
my  master,  I  pray  you,  and  I  shall  beg  his  pardon.  Twas  but  a  simple 
prank,  I  swear!" 

"What  say  yey  sir?"  asked  one  of  the  sailors. 

"He  may  speak  truly/'  the  officer  allowed,  consulting  a  paper  in  his  hand. 
"Mr.  Cooke  hired  passage  for  a  servant,  but  brought  none  with  him  from 
the  harbor/' 

"Methinks  he's  but  a  rascally  adventurer,"  said  Joseph. 

"Nay,  I  jjwear't!"  cried  the  poet,  remembering  that  Burlingame  had  hired 
berths  that  morning  for  Ebenezer  and  himself  in  the  guise  of  the  servant 
Bertrand.  "I  am  Bertrand  Burton  of  St.  Giles  in  the  Fields,  masters— Mr. 
Cooke's  man,  and  his  father's!" 

The  officer  considered  the  matter  for  a  moment.  "Very  well,  send  him 
below  instead,  till  his  master  acknowledges  him." 

For  all  his  misery  Ebenezer  was  relieved:  it  was  his  plan  to  stay  aboard 
at  any  cost,  for  once  under  way,  he  reasoned,  he  could  press  his  case  until 
they  were  persuaded  of  his  true  identity  and  the  mysterious  stranger's 
imposture. 

"Ah  God,  I  thank  thee,  sir!" 

The  sailors  led  him  toward  the  fo'c'sle. 

"Not  at  all,"  the  officer  said  with  a  bow.  "In  an  hour  we  shall  be  at  sea, 
and  if  your  master  doth  not  own  you,  'twill  be  a  long  swim  home." 


11 :  DEPARTURE  FROM  ALBION:  THE  LAUREATE  AT  SEA 


THUS  IT  HAPPENED  THAT  NOT  LONG  AFTERWARDS,  WHEN  ANCHORS  WERE 

weighed  and  catted,  buntlines  cast  off,  sails  unfurled,  and  sheets,  halyards, 
and  braces  belayed,  and  the  Poseidon  was  sea-borne  on  a  broad  reach  past 
The  Lizard,  Ebenezer  was  not  on  hand  to  witness  the  spectacle  with  the 
gentlemen  of  the  quarter-deck,,  but  lay  disconsolate  in  a  fo'c'sle  hammock- 
alone,  for  the  crew  was  busy  above.  The  officer's  last  words  were  frightening 
enough,  to  be  sure,  but  he  no  longer  really  wished  he  were  back  in  the  King 
o'  the  Seas.  There  was  a  chance,  of  course,  that  the  impostor  could  not  be 
intimidated,  but  surely  as  a  last  resort  he'd  let  the  genuine  Laureate  pose 


[  210  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

as  his  servant  rather  than  condemn  him  to  drown;  and  Ebenezfer  saw  noth- 
ing but  certain  death  in  Burlingame's  daring  scheme.  All  things  considered, 
then,  he  believed  his  course  of  action  was  really  rather  prudent,  perhaps 
the  best  expedient  imaginable  under  the  circumstances;  had  he  acquiesced 
to  it  at  Burlingame's  advice,  and  were  his  friend  at  hand  to  lend  him  moral 
support  in  the  forthcoming  interview,  he  might  still  have  been  fearful  but 
he'd  not  have  been  disconsolate.  The  thing  that  dizzied  him,  brought 
sweat  to  his  palms,,  and  shortened  his  breath  was  that  he  alone  had  elected 
to  board  the  Poseidon,  to  pose  as  Bertrand  Burton,  to  declare  to  the  officer 
his  real  identity,  and  finally  to  repudiate  the  declaration  and  risk  his  life  to 
reach  Maiden.  He  heard  the  rattling  of  the  anchor  chain,  the  scamper  of 
feet  on  the  deck  above  his  head,  the  shouted  commands  of  the  mate,  the 
chanteys  of  the  crew  on  the  lines;  he  felt  the  ship  heel  slightly  to  larboard 
and  gain  steerage-way,  and  he  was  disconsolate— very  nearly  ill  again,  as  in 
his  room  that  final  night  in  London. 

Presently  an  aged  sailor  climbed  halfway  down  the  companionway  into 
the  fo'c'sle— a  toothless,  hairless,  flinty-eyed  salt  with  sunken  cheeks*  color- 
less lips,  yellow-leather  skin,  and  a  great  sore  along  the  side  of  his  nose, 

"Look  alive,  laddie!"  he  chirped  from  the  ladder.  "The  Captain  wants 
ye  on  the  poop." 

Ebenezer  sprang  readily  from  the  hammock,  his  notebook  still  clutched 
in  his  hand,  and  failing  to  allow  for  the  incline  of  the  deck,  crashed  heavily 
against  a  nearby  bulkhead. 

"Whoa!  'Sheart!"  he  muttered. 

"Hee  hee!  Step  lively,  son!" 

"What  doth  the  Captain  wish  of  me?"  the  poet  asked,  steadying  himself 
at  the  foot  of  the  ladder.  "Can  it  be  he  realizes  who  I  am,  and  what 
indignities  I  suffer?" 

"Belike  he'll  have  ye  keelhauled,"  the  old  man  cackled,  and  fetched 
Ebenezer  a  wicked  pinch  upon  his  cheek,  so  sharp  it  made  the  tears  come. 
"We've  barnacles  enough  to  take  the  hide  off  a  dog  shark*  Come  along 
with  ye!" 

There  was  nothing  for  it  but  to  climb  the  ladder  to  the  main  deck  and 
follow  his  comfortless  guide  aft  to  the  poop.  There  stood  the  Captain,  a 
florid,  beardless,  portly  fellow,  jowled  and  stern  as  any  Calvinist,  but  with  a 
pink  of  debauchery  in  both  his  eyes,  and  wet  red  lips  that  would  have 
made  Arminius  frown. 

Ebenezer,  rubbing  his  injured  cheek,  observed  a  general  whispering 
among  the  gentlemen  on  the  quarter-deck  as  he  passed,  and  hung  his  head 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  211  ] 

When  he  stepped  up  on  the  ladderway  to  the  poop,  the  old  sailor  caught 
him  by  the  coat  and  pulled  him  back. 

"Hold,  there!  The  poop  deck's  not  for  the  likes  of  you!" 

"Good  enough,  Ned,"  said  the  Captain,  waving  him  off. 

"What  is't  you  wish,  sir?"  Ebenezer  asked. 

"Nothing/'  The  Captain  looked  down  at  him  with  interest.  "Tis  Mr. 
Cooke,  thy  master,  wants  to  see  ye,  not  I.  D'ye  still  say  thou'rt  his  man?" 

"Aye." 

"Ye  know  what  sometimes  happens  to  stowaways?" 

Ebenezer  glanced  at  the  sky  darkening  with  evening  to  the  east  and 
storm  clouds  to  the  west,  the  whitecapped  water,  and  the  fast-receding  rocks 
of  England.  His  heart  chilled. 

"Aye." 

"Take  him  to  my  cabin,"  the  Captain  ordered  Ned.  "But  mind  ye  knock 
ere  ye  enter:  Mr.  Cooke  is  busy  rhyming  verses." 

Ebenezer  was  impressed:  he  would  not  himself  have  dared  to  request 
such  a  privilege.  Whoever  this  impostor  was,  he  had  the  manner  of  the  rank 
he  claimedl 

The  sailor  led  him  by  the  sleeve  to  a  companionway  at  the  after  end  of 
the  quarter-deck  which  opened  to  the  captain's  quarters  under  the  poop. 
They  descended  a  short  ladder  into  what  appeared  to  be  a  chart-room,  and 
old  Ned  rapped  on  a  door  leading  aft. 

"What  is  it?"  someone  inside  demanded.  The  voice  was  sharp,  self- 
confident,  and  faintly  annoyed:  certainly  not  the  voice  of  a  man  fearful  of 
exposure.  Ebenezer  thought  again  of  the  dark  sea  outside  and  shivered: 
there  was  not  a  chance  of  reaching  shore. 

"Begging  your  pardon,  Mr.  Cooke,"  Ned  pleaded,  clearly  intimidated 
himself,  "I  have  the  wretch  here  that  says  he  is  your  servant,  sir:  the  one 
that  tried  to  tell  us  he  was  you,  sir." 

"Aha!  Send  him  in  and  leave  us  alone,"  said  the  voice,  as  if  relishing  the 
prospect.  All  thought  of  victory  fled  the  poet's  mind:  he  resolved  to  ask  no 
more  than  mercy  from  the  man— and  possibly  a  promise  to  return,  when 
they  reached  Maryland,  that  commission  from  Lord  Baltimore,  which  some- 
how or  other  the  impostor  had  acquired.  And  maybe  an  apology,  for  it 
was,  after  all,  a  deuced  humiliation  he  was  suffering! 

Ned  opened  the  door  and  assisted  Ebenezer  through  with  another  cruel 
pinch,  this  time  on  the  buttock,  and  an  evil  laugh.  The  poet  jumped 
involuntarily;  again  his  eyes  watered,  and  his  knees  went  weak  when  Ned 
closed  the  door  behind  him.  He  found  himself  in  a  small  but  handsomely 


[  212  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

furnished  cabin  in  the  extreme  rear  of  the  vessel.  The  floor  was  carpeted; 
the  Captain's  bed,  built  into  one  wall,  was  comfortably  clothed  in  clean 
linen.  A  large  brass  oil  lamp,  already  lit,  swung  gently  from  the  ceiling  and 
illuminated  a  great  oak  table  beneath.  There  was  even  a  glass-fronted  book- 
case, and  oil  portraits  in  the  style  of  Titian,  Rubens,  and  Correggio  were 
fastened  with  decorative  brass  bolts  around  the  walls.  The  impostor, 
dressed  in  Burlingame's  port-purple  coat  and  sporting  a  campaigner  wig, 
stood  with  his  back  to  the  poet  at  the  far  wall— actually  the  stem  of  the 
ship— staring  through  small  leaded  windowpanes  at  the  Poseidon's  wake. 
Satisfied  that  Ned  was  gone,  Ebenezer  rushed  around  the  table  and  fell  to 
his  knees  at  the  other  man's  feet. 

"Dear,  dear  sir!"  he  cried,  not  daring  to  look  up,  "Believe  me,  I've  no 
mind  at  all  to  expose  your  disguise!  No  mind  at  all,  sir!  I  know  full  well  how 
you  came  by  your  clothing  in  the  stable  of  the  King  o*  the  Seas  and  fooled 
the  ferryman  Joseph  and  his  father  at  the  wharf— though  how  in  Heaven 
you  got  my  Lord  Baltimore's  commission,  that  he  wiote  for  me  in  his  own 
hand  not  a  week  past,  I  cannot  fathom/' 

The  impostor,  above  him,  made  a  small  sound  and  backed  away. 

"But  no  matter!  Think  not  I'm  wroth,  or  mean  to  take  revenge!  I  ask  no 
more  than  that  you  let  me  pose  as  your  servant  on  this  ship,  nor  shall  I 
breathe  a  word  oft  to  a  soul,  you  may  depend  on'tl  What  would  it  profit 
you  to  see  me  drown?  And  when  we  land  in  Maryland,  why,  IT!  bring  no 
charge  against  you,  but  call  it  quits  and  think  no  more  oft  Nay,  HI  g# 
thee  a  place  at  Maiden,  my  estate^  or  pay  your  fare  to  a  neighboring 
province " 

Glancing  up  at  this  last  to  see  what  effect  his  plea  was  having,  he  stopped 
and  said  no  more.  The  blood  drained  from  his  face. 

"Nay!"  He  sprang  to  his  feet  and  leaped  at  the  impostor,  who  barely 
escaped  to  the  other  side  of  the  round  oak  table.  His  campaigner,  however, 
fell  to  the  floor,  and  the  light  from  the  lamp  fell  Ml  on  Bertiand  Burton 
—the  real  Bertrand,  whom  Ebenezer  had  last  seen  in  bis  room  in  Pndding 
Lane  when  he  left  it  to  seek  a  notebook  at  the  Sign  of  the  Raven. 

JGod!  F God!"  He  could  scarcely  speak  for  rage, 

"Prithee,  Master  Ebenezer,  sir *  The  voice  was  Bertrand's  voice, 

formidable  no  more.  Ebenezer  lunged  again,  but  the  servant  kept  the  table 
between  them. 

"You'd  watch  me  drown!  Let  me  crawl  to  you  for  mere?!" 
"Prithee — " 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  213 

"Wretch!  Only  let  me  lay  hands  on  that  craven  neck,  to  wring  it  like  a 
capon's!  We'll  see  who  drinks  salt  water!" 

"Nay,  prithee,  master!  I  meant  thee  no  ill,  I  swear't!  I  can  explain  all 
of  it,  every  part!  Dear  God,  I  never  dreamed  'twas  you  they'd  caught,  sir! 
Think  ye  I'd  see  ye  suffer,  that  e'er  was  such  a  gentle  master?  I,  that  was 
your  blessed  father's  trusty  friend  and  adviser  for  years?  Why,  I'd  take  a 
flogging  ere  I'd  let  'em  lay  a  hand  on  ye,  sir!" 

"Flogging  you  shall  have  right  soon,  i'faith!"  the  poet  said  grimly,  re- 
versing his  field  in  vain  from  clockwise  to  counterclockwise.  "Nor  shall  that 
be  the  worst  oft,  when  I  catch  you!"  ' 

"Do  but  let  me  say,  sir " 

"Hi!  I  near  had  thee  then!" 

" — 'twas  through  no  fault  of  mine " 

"Aft/  You  knave,  hold  still!" 

"•—but  bad  rum  and  a  treacherous  woman " 

"'Sheart!  But  when  I  have  thee " 

" — and  who's  really  to  blame,  sir " 

"—I  shall  flog  that  purple  coat  from  off  thy  back " 

"—is  your  sister  Anna's  beau!" 

The  chase  ended.  Ebenezer  leaned  across  the  table  into  the  lamplight, 
brighter  now  for  the  gathering  dark  outside. 

"What  is't  I  heard  you  say?"  he  asked  carefully. 

"I  only  said,  sir,  what  commenced  this  whole  affair  was  the  pound  ster- 
ling your  sister  and  her  gentleman  friend  presented  me  with  in  the  post- 
house,  when  I  had  fetched  your  baggage  there." 

"I  shall  cut  thy  lying  tongue  from  out  thy  head!" 

"Tis  true  as  Scripture,  sir,  I  sweartl"  Bertrand  said,  still  moving  warily 
as  Ebenezer  moved. 

"You  saw  them  there  together?  Impossible!" 

"God  smite  me  dead  if  I  did  not,  sir:  Miss  Anna  and  some  gentleman 
with  a  beard,  that  she  called  Henry." 

"Dear  Heav'n!"  the  poet  muttered  as  if  to  himself.  "But  you  called  him 
her  beau,  Bertrand?" 

"Well,  now,  no  slur  intended,  sir;  oh,  no  slur  intended  at  all!  I  meant 
no  more  by't  than  that— Ah,  sir,  you  know  full  well  how  folks  make  hasty 
judgments,  and  far  be't  from  me " 

"Cease  thy  prating!  What  did  you  see,  that  made  you  call  him  her  beau? 
No  mor£  than  cordial  conversation?" 

"'Sheart,  xather  more  than  that,  sir!  But  think  not  I'm  the  sort " 


[214]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"I  know  well  thou'rt  a  thief,  a  liar,  and  a  cheat,"  Ebenezer  snapped 
"What  is't  you  saw  that  set  thy  filthy  mind  to  work?  Eh?" 

"I  hardly  dare  tell,  sir;  thou'rt  in  such  a  rage!  Who's  to  say  ye'll  not 
strike  me  dead,  though  from  first  to  last  I  am  innocent  as  a  babe?" 

"Enough/'  the  poet  sighed,  "I  know  the  signs  of  old.  You'll  drive  me 
mad  with  your  digressions  and  delays  until  I  guarantee  your  safety.  Very 
well,  I  shan't  besmirch  my  hands  on  you,  I  promise.  Speak  plainly,  now!" 

"They  were  in  each  other's  arms,"  the  servant  said,  "and  billing  and 
cooing  at  a  mad  rate  when  I  came  up  with  your  baggage.  When  Miss  Anna 
had  sight  of  me  she  blushed  and  tried  to  compose  herself,  yet  all  the  while 
she  and  the  gentleman  spoke  to  me,  they  could  not  for  the  life  of  'em 
stand  still,  but  must  ever  be  at  sweetmeat  and  honeybee,  and  fondle  and 
squeeze Are  you  ill,  sir?" 

Ebenezer  had  gone  pale;  he  slumped  into  the  Captain's  chair  and 
clutched  his  head  in  his  hands.  "  Tis  nothing." 

"Well,  as  I  said,  sir,  they  could  not  keep  their  hands * 

"Finish  thy  story  if  you  must,"  Ebenezer  broke  in,  "but  speak  no  more 
of  those  two,  as  you  prize  your  wretched  life!  They  paid  you,  did  they?" 

"They  did  in  truth,  sir,  for  fetching  down  your  baggage," 

"But  a  pound?  Tis  rather  a  princely  reward  for  the  task." 

"Ah,  now,  sir,  I  am  after  all  an  old  and  trusted "  He  stopped  half- 
way through  the  sentence,  so  fierce  was  the  look  on  Ebetiezer's  face.  "Be- 
sides which,"  he  concluded,  "now  I  see  hov/t  strikes  ye,  'tis  likely  they  wished 
me  to  say  naught  of  what  I'd  seen.  I  tell  yey  sir,  'tis  not  for  much  I'd  have 
missed  your  setting  out!  Had  not  Miss  Anna  and  her  gentleman  insisted 
that  I  leave  at  once " 

"Spare  me  thy  devotion,"  Ebenezer  said.  "What  did  you  then,,  and  why 
did  you  pose  as  me?  Speak  fast,  ere  I  fetch  the  Captain." 

"  'Tis  a  tragic  tale,  sir,  that  shames  me  in  the  telling.  I  beg  ye  keep  in 
mind  I'd  never  have  presumed,  sir,  save  that  I  was  distracted  and  possessed 
by  grief  at  your  arrest  and  in  direst  peril  of  my  life," 

"My  arrest!" 

"Aye,  sir,  in  the  posthouse.  Tis  a  mystery  to  me  yet  how  tbou'rt  free> 
and  how  you  came  so  rapidly  from  London." 

Ebenezer  smacked  his  hand  upon  the  table.  "Speak  English,  man! 
Straight  English  sentences  a  man  can  follow!" 

"Very  well,  sir,"  Bertrand  said.  "I  shall  begin  at  the  beginning,  if  yell 
bear  with  me."  So  saying,  he  took  the  liberty  of  sitting  at  the  Captain's 
table,  facing  Ebenezer,  and  with  a  full  complement  of  moralizing  asides 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [215] 

and  other  commentary,  delivered  himself  during  the  next  half  hour  of  the 
following  story: 

"  Twas  a  double  grief  I  carried  from  the  posthouse  in  my  heart,  sir,  in- 
asmuch as  I  had  lost  the  gentlest,  kindliest  master  that  ever  poor  servingman 
served,  and  could  not  even  ckim  the  privilege  of  seeing  him  off  to  Plym- 
outh in  his  coach,  and  wishing  him  a  last  Godspeed.  Therefore  I  sought 

a  double  physic  for't.  With  the  pound  Miss  Anna  and  her What  I  mean 

to  say,  sir,  I  hied  me  to  a  winehouse  near,  at  hand  and  drank  a  deal  of 
rackpunch,  that  the  rogue  of  a  barman  had  laced  with  such  poisonous  mo- 
lasses rum  I  near  went  blind  on  the  spot.  Three  glasses  served  to  rob  me 
of  all  judgment,  yet  such  was  my  pain  at  losing  you  I  drank  off  seven, 
and  bought  a  quart  of  ratafia  besides,  for  Betsy  Birdsall.  That  is  to  say,  not 
all  the  bottled  spirits  in  London  could  restore  my  own,  and  so  at  length 
I  fled  for  comfort  back  to  Pudding  Lane,  to  your  rooms,  sir.  Yet  well  I 
knew  they'd  seem  so  vacant  with  ye  gone,  'twould  but  increase  tenfold  my 
pain  to  sit  alone,  and  for  that  cause  I  stopped  belowstairs  to  summon 
Betsy  Birdsall— ye  recall  the  chambermaid,  sir,  that  had  the  unnatural  hus- 
band and  the  fetching  laugh?  We  climbed  the  stairs  together,  and  'sheart! 
so  far  from  vacant,,  your  rooms  were  fit  to  burst  with  men,  sir!  A  wight 
named  Bragg  there  was,  that  looked  nor  manlier  than  my  Betsy's  husband, 
and  a  half-a-dozen  sheriff's  bullies  with  him;  'twas  you  they  sought,  sir, 
with  some  false  tale  of  a  ledger-book— I  ne'er  made  rhyme  nor  sense  of  tl 

"Directly  they  spied  me  a  shout  went  up,  and  they  were  that  bent  on 
justice,  I  feared  for  Betsy's  honor  at  their  hands.  At  length  I  told  them,  in 
answer  to  their  queries,  my  master  was  at  the  posthouse,  and  off  they  ran 

to  catch  ye •  Nay,  look  not  thus,  sirl  'Tis  not  as  ye  think,  I  swear't!  Not 

for  a  moment  would  I  have  breathed  the  truth,  had  I  not  known  your 
coach  was  some  time  gone— rather  would  I  have  suffered  death  itself,  or 
prison,  at  their  hands!  But  well  I  knew  'twas  a  wild-goose  chase  they  chased, 
and  good  riddancel 

"We  turned  to't  then,  the  wench  and  I,  and  with  her  her  ratafia  and  me 
my  rum  we  lacked  no  fire  to  warm  the  sheets  withal,  and  were  that  tired 
when  we  had  done,  that  though  'twas  brightest  day  we  slept  some  hours 
in  sweat,  sack  a  sack.  Anon  I  knew,  by  certain  signs,  my  mount  was  fresh 
and  restless  for  the  jumps;  yet  for  a  time  I  feigned  to  slumber  on.  (The 
truth  oft  is,  though  the  girl  and  I  are  twins  in  will  and  skill,  I've  twice  her 
years  and  half  her  strength,  and  more  than  once  have  cantered  willy-nilly 
when  I  yearned  to  walk.)  There  were  these  signs,  I  say,  that  I'd  have  naught 
of,  till  Betsy  made  a  moan  and  dived  head  foremost  'neath  the  covers.  The 


[  2l6  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

cause  wherefor  I  saw  at  once  in  opening  my  eyes,  for  'twas  not  her  hands 
were  on  me  after  all,  but  the  hands  of  Mister  Trentice-Clerk  himself, 
the  winehouse  fiddler!  Aye,  I  swear't,  'twas  that  same  Ralph  Birdsall, 
Betsy's  husband,  that  erst  was  wont  to  leave  his  field  unplowed,  but  since 
I  seeded  it  had  grown  such  a  jealous  farmer  he  looked  to's  plot  five  times 
a  day.  He  had  come  home  to  run  another  furrow,  like  as  not,  and  on  ad- 
vice from  one  below— the  cook's  boy  Tim,  that  long  himself  had  leched 
for  Betsy—he  stole  upstairs  to  find  us. 

"  'Sblood,  'twas  a  murtherous  moment,  sir!  I  had  like  to  smirch  me  for 
very  fright,  and  waited  only  for  knife  or  ball.  Betsy  likewise,  albeit  her 
head  was  buried  like  the  ostrich's,  showed  great  alarm:  'twas  writ  all  over 
her  hinder  part.  Yet  Birdsall  himself  seemed  no  less  racked:  he  shivered 
like  a  yawning  cat  and  drew  his  breath  unnaturally.  Nor  was't  in  wrath 
his  hands  lay  on  me,  as  I  soon  saw.  Great  tears  coursed  down  his  cheeks, 
the  which  were  smooth  as  any  girl's;  he  sniffed  and  bit  his  underlip,  yet 
would  not  speak  nor  smite  me  down. 

"  'Out  on't!'  I  cried  at  last.  'Here  I  lie,  and  there  lies  thy  wife,  right 
roundly  rogered:  ye  have  caught  us  fair  enough.  Then  make  an  end  on't, 
sir,  or  get  thee  hence!7  He  then  composed  himself  and  said,  that  though 
'twas  in  his  rights  to  slay  the  twain  of  us,  yet  he  had  no  taste  for  bloodshed 
and  loved  his  wife  besides.  The  horns  were  on  his  brow,  he  said,  nor 
could  his  short-sword  poll  him.  Moreover,  he  declared  that  in  bedding 
Betsy  I  had  bedded  him,  forasmuch  as  marriage  made  them  one;  and  on 
this  ground  averred,  that  whate'er  Betsy  felt  for  me,  he  could  but  feel 
the  same— in  short,  to  the  degree  I  was  her  lover,  I  was  his  as  well,  and 
this  in  the  eyes  of  God  Himself! 

"Now  all  this  Jesuitry  I  heard  amazed,  yet  was  right  glad  to  remain 
unpunctured,  and  I  made  bold  to  put  him  in  mind  of  that  ancient  and 
consoling  verity,  None  save  the  mttol  knows  he  is  no  cuckold.  On  hearing 
which,  the  wretch  straightway  embraced  me,  and  de'il  I  had  no  taste  for% 
'twas  give  him  his  head  or  lose  my  own.  Betsy  meanwhile,  on  hearing  how 
the  wind  blew,  soon  calmed  her  shivering  hams  and,  throwing  off  the  covers, 
cried  she  had  no  mind  to  play  Rub-a-dub-dub  nor  could  she  fathom  how 
such  a  bedful  of  women  had  ever  got  her  with  child.  At  this  Ralph  Birdsall 
gave  a  mighty  start  and  in  a  trembling  tone  enquired,  was't  he  or  I  had  got 
the  child?  Whereupon  my  Betsy  cried,  *  'Twas  he!  'Twas  my  sweet  Ber- 
trand!'  Methought  I  was  betrayed  and  cursed  her  for  a  liar;  to  Ralph  I  swore 
I'd  ne'er  laid  hands  on  Betsy  till  a  fortnight  past,  nor  swived  her  till  a  good 
week  after,  whereas  the  child  was  three  months  in  her  belly  if  he  was  a 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  21J  ] 

day.  'He  lies!'  swore  Betsy;  *I  swear'tf  swore  I.  'Nay!'  swore  she.  "Tis  full 
six  months  I've  been  his  whore,  that  had  no  husband  to  wife  me!  A  hun- 
dred times  hath  he  climbed  and  sowed  me,  till  I  am  full  as  a  full-corned 
goose  of  him!'  Ralph  Birdsall  then  fetched  out  his  sword,  that,  clerk 
or  no,  he  boasted  always  at  his  hip.  The  truth!7  he  cried,  and  shook  all 
over  as  with  an  ague.  I  still  took  Betsy  for  a  traitor,  and  so  declared,  *  Tore 
God  thy  wife's  a  hellish  liar,  sir,  but  nonetheless  she  is  no  whore.  May 
I  fry  in  Hell  if  the  child  is  any  man's  but  yours/ 

"Alas!  What  man  can  say  he  knows  his  fellow  man?  Who'd  not  have 
sworn,  when  at  last  I  quite  persuaded  Birdsall,  'twould  soften  his  wrath— 
the  more  for  that  'twas  not  his  horns  that  galled  him?  Yet  when  I'd  said 
my  piece  and  he  Amen'd  it,  he  drew  himself  up  and  scowled  a  fearsome 
scowl.  Whore!'  he  cried  at  Betsy,  and  with  the  flat  of  his  sword  he  fetched 
her  a  swingeing  clap  athwart  her  seat.  Nor  stopped  he  there,  but  made 
to  run  me  through,  and  'twas  only  the  nimblest  of  legs  that  saved  my 
neck.  I  snatched  up  my  breeches  and  dashed  for  the  door,  with  the  fiddler 
in  hot  career  behind,  nor  durst  I  stop  to  cover  my  shame  till  I  was  half 
a  square  before  him — Better  lose  pride  than  hide,  sir,  as  they  say.  As  for 
my  tatling  Betsy,  the  last  I  saw  her  she  was  springing  hither  and  yon 
about  the  room,  sir,,  hands  on  her  buttocks  and  hollowing  like  a  hero, 
nor  have  I  seen  her  since.  The  truth  oft  was,  as  I  guessed  later,  the 
babe  in  Betsy's  belly  was  the  fiddler's  claim  to  manhood,  so  long  as  he 
thought  himself  the  father;  it  took  no  more  than  discovering  us  rem  in  rem 
to  quite  undo  him.  Twas  only  to  save  me  the  wench  gave  out  the  truth, 
and  'sblood!  I  cut  my  throat  to  call  her  false,  for  albeit  the  cuckold  lost 
my  trail,  he'd  vowed  to  hound  me  to  the  earth's  ends  and  poll  that  horn 
wherewith  himself  was  horned! 

"There  was  naught  for  it  then  but  I  must  flee;  yet  I  had  but  three  pound 
in  my  breeches,  nor  dared  return  for  clothes  or  savings.  I  summoned  a 
boy  who  happened  through  the  alley  where  I  hid  and  sent  him  with  the 
money  for  shirt,  hose,  and  shoes;  then  for  an  hour  I  prowled  the  streets, 
debating  what  to  do. 

"By  merest  chance  my  way  led  to  the  posthouse,  at  sight  of  which  I 
could  not  but  weep  to  think  of  your  straits,,  that  were  but  little  happier 
than  my  own.  'Twas  here  I  hit  upon  my  plan,  sir,  whereof  the  substance 
was,  that  though  'twas  past  my  power  to  help  ye,  yet  in  your  misery  ye 
might  ransom  me.  That  is  to  say,  ye'd  bought  your  passage  to  Maryland 
and  could  not  sail;  who  knew  but  what  ye'd  bought  your  seat  to  Plym- 
outh as  well?  Think  not  I  planned  to  cheat  thee,  sir!  'Twas  but  to  Plymouth 


[  2l8  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

I  meant  to  go,  to  save  my  life,  and  vowed  to  make  ye  restitution  when 
I  could.  I  did  not  doubt  I  could  play  the  poet,  though  de'il  the  bit  I  know 
of  verse,  for  I've  a  gift  for  mime,  sir,  if  I  may  say  so.  Aye,  many's  the  hour 
at  St.  Giles  I've  kept  the  folk  in  stitches  by  'personating  old  Mrs.  Twigg, 
with  her  crooked  walk  and  her  voice  like  an  ironmonger's!  And  once  in 
Pudding  Lane,  sir,  I  did  Ralph  Birdsall  to  such  a  turn,  my  Betsy  wept 
a-laughing,  nor  could  contain  herself  but  let  fly  on  the  sheets  for  very 
mirth.  The  only  rub  was,  should  someone  challenge  me  I'd  naught  where- 
with to  prove  my  case.  For  that  reason,  though  I  need  not  say  how  much 
I  loathed  to  do't,  I  called  for  quill  and  paper  in  the  posthouse,  sir,  and 
as  best  my  memory  would  serve  me  I  writ  a  copy  of  your  commission,  the 
which  ye'd  showed  me  ere  ye  left " 

At  this  point,  Ebenezer,  who  had  with  the  greatest  difficulty  contained 
his  mounting  astonishment  and  wrath  as  Bertrandrs  tale  unfolded,  cried 
out,  ''Devil  take  it,  man,  is  there  aught  of  infamy  you'd  stop  at?  Steal 
passage,  take  name  and  rank,  and  even  forge  commission!  Let  me  see  it!" 

"  Tis  but  a  miserable  approximation,  sir,"  the  servant  said.  "I've  little 
wit  in  the  matter  of  language  and  had  no  seal  to  seal  it  with."  He  drew 
a  paper  from  his  coat  and  proffered  it  reluctantly,  "  Twould  fool  no  man, 
I'm  certain." 

"Tis  not  Lord  Baltimore's  hand,"  Ebenezer  admitted,  scanning  the 
paper.  "But  i'faith!"  he  added  on  reading  it.  "The  wording  is  the  same, 
from  first  to  last!  And  you  say  'twas  done  from  memory?  Recite  it  for  me, 
then!" 

"Marry,  sir,  I  cannot;  'twas  some  time  past." 

"The  first  line,  then.  Surely  you  recall  the  first  line  oft?  No?  Then  thou'rt 
an  arrant  liar!"  He  flung  the  paper  to  the  floor.  "Where  is  my  commission, 
that  you  copied  this  from?" 

"  Tore  God,  sir,  I  do  not  know." 

"And  yet  you  copied  from  it  in  the  posthouse?" 

"Ye  force  the  truth  from  me,  sir,"  Bertrand  said,  shamefaced.  "  Twas  in- 
deed from  the  original  I  copied,  and  not  from  memory;  neither  was  it  in 
the  posthouse  I  did  the  deed,  but  in  your  room,  sir,  the  day  ye  left.  The 
commission  was  on  your  writing  table,  where  ye'd  forgot  it;  I  found  it 
there  as  I  was  packing  your  trunk,  and  so  moved  was  I  by  the  grandness 
oft  I  made  a  copy,  thinking  to  show  my  Betsy  what  a  master  I'd  lost 
The  original  I  put  in  your  trunk  and  carried  to  the  posthouse." 

"Then  why  this  sneak  and  subterfuge?"  the  poet  demanded.  ""Why  did 
you  not  admit  it  from  the  start?  Thank  Heaven  the  thing's  not  lost!" 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  219  ] 

Bertrand  made  no  reply,  but  scowled  more  miserably  than  ever. 
'Well?  Surely  'tis  in  my  trunk  this  instant,  is't  not?  Why  did  you  lie?" 

"I  put  the  paper  in  your  trunk,  sir/'  Bertrand  said,  "on  the  very  top 
of  all,  and  fetched  your  baggage  to  the  posthouse;  nor  thought  I  more  oft 
till  the  hour  I've  told  of,  when,  to  save  my  life,  I  vowed  to  'personate  my 
way  to  Plymouth.  Then  I  recalled  my  copy  and  luckily  found  it  where  it 
had  been  since  the  hour  I  forged  it— folded  in  quarters  in  my  pocket.  To 
try  myself  I  marched  into  the  posthouse,  and  to  the  first  wight  I  met  I  said, 
Tm  Ebenezer  Cooke,  my  man,  Poet  and  Laureate  of  die  Province  of 
Maryland:  please  direct  me  to  the  Plymouth  coach/" 

"The  brassl" 

Bertrand  shrugged:  the  Burlingamelike  gesture  was  the  more  startling 
performed  as  it  was  in  Burlingame's  port-purple  coat.  "Twas  daring 
enough,"  he  admitted.  "The  fellow  only  stared  and  mumbled  something 
about  the  coach  being  gone.  I  feared  he  saw  through  my  imposture,  and 
the  more  when  a  stout  fierce  fellow  in  black  came  up  behind  and  said, 
Thou'rt  the  poet  Cooke,  ye  say?  Thou'rt  a  knave  and  liar,  for  the  poet 
Cooke  they  fetched  to  jail  not  two  hours  past/  " 

"To  jail!"  Ebenezer  cried.  "What  is  this  talk  of  jail,  man,  that  ye  return 
to  here  again?" 

"  'Twas  what  Fd  feared,  sir:  that  wretch  named  Bragg,  that  would  have 
the  law  on  ye  for  some  false  matter  of  a  ledger-book.  'Twas  only  inasmuch 
as  I  knew  ye  were  past  rescue,  as  I  say,  sir,  that  I  presumed  to  use  your 
passage " 

"Stay!  Stay!  One  moment,  now!"  Ebenezer  protested.  "There  is  a  mar- 
velous discrepancy  here!" 

"A  discrepancy,  sir?" 

"It  wants  no  barrister  to  see  it,"  the  poet  said.  "Twas  you  set  Bragg  on 
my  trail,  was't  not,  when  you  found  him  in  my  room?  And  'twas  only  that 
you  knew  I'd  be  long  gone,  you  said.  How  is't  then " 

"Prithee  let  me  finish,  sir/'  Bertrand  pleaded,  coloring  noticeably.  "Tales 
are  like  tarts,  that  may  be  ugly  on  the  face  of  'em  and  yet  have  a  worth- 
while end.  This  man,  I  say,  declared  ye  were  in  jail— a  fearsome  fellow, 
he  was,  dressed  all  in  black,  with  a  great  black  beard,  and  pistols  in  his 
waist.  And  not  far  behind  him  was  another,  as  like  as  any  twin,  which, 
when  he  joined  the  first,  the  man  I'd  queried  took  fright  and  ran.  As  would 
have  I,  but  for  access  of  fear." 

"They  sound  like  Slye  and  Scurry!" 

"The  very  same,  sir,,  they  called  each  other:  a  pair  of  sharks  as  may  I 


[  220  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

never  meet  again!  Yet  little  I  knew  of  'em  then  but  that  they'd  challenged 
me,  and  so  I  said  straight  out,  the  man  who'd  gone  to  jail  was  an  impostor, 
and  jailed  for  his  imposture,  and  I  was  the  real  Ebenezer  Cooke.  To 
prove  it  I  displayed  my  false  commission,  scarce  daring  to  hope  they'd  be 
persuaded.  Yet  persuaded  they  were,  and  even  humbled,  as  I  thought;  they 
whispered  together  for  a  while  and  then  insisted  I  ride  to  Plymouth  with 
them,  inasmuch  as  the  regular  coach  was  gone.  I  took  the  boon  right 
readily,  fearing  any  minute  to  see  Ralph  Birdsall  and  his  sword " 

"And  fell  into  their  hands/'  Ebenezer  said  with  relish.  "By  Heav'n, 
'tis  no  more  than  your  desertl" 

Bertrand  shuddered.  "Say  not  so,  sir!  Hi,  what  a  pair  of  fiends!  No  sooner 
were  we  on  the  road  than  their  intent  came  clear:  they  were  lieutenants 
of  one  Colonel  Coode  of  Maryland,  that  hath  designs  upon  the  govern- 
ment, and  had  been  sent  by  him  to  waylay  Eben  Cooke— which  quany 
fearing  bagged  by  other  hunters,  they  were  the  more  ready  to  believe 
me  him.  What  designs  they  had  on  you,  sir,  I  could  not  guess,  but  certain 
'twas  not  to  beg  a  verse  of  ye,  for  they  held  each  a  pistol  ready,  and  left 
no  doubt  I  was  their  prisoner.  Twas  not  till  Plymouth  I  escaped;  one  of 
the  twain  went  to  see  how  fared  their  ship,  and  the  other  wandering  some 
yards  off  to  rouse  the  stableboy  at  the  King  o'  the  Seas,  I  leaped  round 
a  corner  and  burrowed  into  a  pile  of  hay,  where  I  hid  till  they  gave  o'er 
the  search  and  went  inside  for  rum." 

"Take  them  no  farther,"  Ebenezer  said;  "I  know  the  test  of  their  his- 
tory. 'Twas  in  the  hay,  then,  that  Burlingame  found  you?" 

"Aye,  sir,  I  heard  the  sound  of  people  and  trembled  for  my  life,  the 
more  for  that  their  footsteps  came  toward  me.  Anon  I  felt  a  great  thrashing 
weight  upon  me,  and  thinking  I  was  jumped  by  Slye  or  Scurry,  I  gave  a 
great  hollow  and  grappled  as  best  I  could  to  save  my  life,  Twas  the  barmaid 
from  the  tavern  I  found  opposing  me— coats  high,  drawers  low,  and  ripe 
for  rogering— and  Miss  Anna's  beau  stood  by,  laughing  mightily  at  the 
combat." 

"Enough,  enough!  How  is't  you  did  not  know  each  other,  if  as  you 
say  you'd  seen  him  at  the  posthouse?" 

"Not  know  him?  I  knew  him  at  once,  sir  and  he  me,  and  'twere  hard 
to  tell  which  was  the  more  amazed.  Yet  he  asked  me  nothing  of  my 
business  there,  but  straightway  offered  to  change  clothes  with  me— I  dare- 
say he  feared  my  telling  tales  to  his  Miss  Anna " 

"Enough/"  Ebenezer  ordered  again. 

"No  harm  intended,  sir;  no  injury  meant.  In  any  case  I  was  pleased  to 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  221  ] 

make  the  change,  not  alone  in  that  I  had  the  better  of  the  bargain  but 
also  to  escape  from  Slye  and  Scurry.  Yet  I  went  no  farther  than  the  door 
of  the  King  o'  the  Seas  ere  they  spied  me  from  inside  and  gave  chase; 
'twas  only  by  hiding  behind  some  baggage  on  a  pier  that  I  eluded  them. 
Then  fancy  my  amazement,  sir,  when  I  saw  'twas  your  own  trunk  had 
saved  me,  that  I'd  packed  myself  not  long  before!  I  knew— alas!— ye  were 
not  there  to  claim  it  and  so  resolved  to  carry  my  poor  deception  one  step 
farther;  to  board  your  ship,  sir,  with  your  own  commission,  and  hide  till 
I  deemed  it  safe  to  go  ashore.  To  that  end,  so  soon  as  I  was  safe  aboard 
I  unlocked  your  trunk " 

'What  say  you?" 

"Ye'd  left  one  key  with  me  in  London,  what  time  I  packed  ye.  But 
I  found  the  paper  gone,  sir." 

"Gone/  Great  heavens,  man,  whither?" 

"Lost,  strayed,  or  stolen,  sir,"  said  Bertrand.  "  Twas  on  the  very  top  I'd 
laid  it,,  yet  now  'twas  nowhere  in  the  trunk.  I  had  to  use  my  false  commission 
instead,  which  happily  convinced  'em  for  all  it  had  no  seal.  I  told  the 
Captain  to  keep  watch  for  my  pursuers.  The  rest  ye  know." 

Ebenezer  paced  the  cabin  wildly,  his  finger  ends  pressed  against  his 
temples. 

"When  word  came  to  me  that  some  stranger  was  aboard  that  called  him- 
self the  Laureate,  then  swore  he  was  the  Laureate's  man,"  Bertrand  con- 
cluded, watching  his  master  anxiously,  "I  durst  not  leave  this  room.  If  t 
was  Slye  or  Scurry  or  Coode  himself,  I  would  be  murthered  on  the  spot. 
I  had  no  choice  but  to  stand  here,  sick  at  heart,  and  watch  the  ship  get 
under  way.  The  officer  then  said  I  must  inspect  ye,  and  so  sure  was  I  of 
death,  I  could  not  turn  from  the  window  till  I  heard  your  voice.  How  is't 
thou'rt  not  in  jail,  sir?" 

"Jail!"  Ebenezer  said  with  impatience.  "I  never  was  in  jail!" 

"Then  who  is't  took  your  place?  Slye  vowed  that  when  he  and  Scurry 
searched  the  posthouse  for  ye,  they  heard  on  every  side  of  a  man  who'd 
been  arrested  not  ten  minutes  before  and  carried  off  to  jail  None  knew 
what  crime  he'd  done,  but  all  knew  his  name  was  Eben  Cooke,,  for  the 
man  had  strode  about  declaring  name  and  rank  to  the  world." 

"No  doubt  a  second  impostor,"  the  poet  replied,  "bent  on  whoring  my 
office  to  his  purpose.  May  he  rot  in  irons  for  ever  and  aye!  As  for  you,  since 
'twas  not  among  your  plans  to  make  a  voyage,  you'll  sail  no  farther " 

'Te'll  have  'em  fetch  me  ashore?"  Bertrand  went  to  his  knees  in  grati- 


[  222  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

tilde.  "Ah  marry,  what  a  place  in  Heav'n  is  thine,  sitl  What  an  injustice 
I  did  ye,  to  fear  ye'd  not  have  pity  on  my  case!" 

"On  the  contrary;  'tis  perhaps  the  one  injustice  you  did  me  not." 

"Sir?" 

Ebenezer  turned  away  to  the  stern  windows.  "Twere  well  to  say  a 
prayer  before  you  rise;  I  mean  you'll  swim  for't." 

"Nay!  Twere  the  end  o'  me,  sir!" 

"As't  were  of  me/7  Ebenezer  said,  "had  you  not  owned " 

He  stopped  short:  master  and  man  measured  each  other  for  an  instant, 
then  sprang  together  for  the  false  commission  on  the  floor— which  laying 
hold  of  at  the  same  instant,  they  soon  destroyed  in  their  struggle. 

"No  matter,"  Ebenezer  said.  "  Twill  take  but  a  minute  with  the  twain 
of  us  for  any  fool  to  judge  which  is  the  poet  and  which  the  lying  knave/' 

"Think  better  oft!"  Bertrand  warned.  "  Tis  not  my  wish  to  harm  ye, 
sir,  but  if  it  comes  to  that,  there'll  be  no  judgment;  I've  but  to  send  for 
the  man  that  fetched  ye  here  and  swear  I  know  ye  not." 

"What!  You'll  threaten  me  too,  that  have  already  set  the  law  upon  me, 
robbed  me  of  name  and  passage,  and  well-nigh  caused  my  death?  A  pretty 
fellow!" 

For  all  his  wrath,  however,  Ebenezer  was  not  blind  to  the  uncertainty 
of  his  position;  he  spoke  no  more  of  summoning  an  officer  to  judge  between 
them  nor  did  he  further  question  Bertrand's  tale,  though  several  details  of 
it  failed  to  satisfy  him.  The  valet  had  declared,  for  example,  that  only  the 
certainty  of  his  master's  departure  had  allowed  him  with  clear  conscience 
to  send  Bragg's  bullies  to  the  posthouse;  yet  it  was  his  certainty  of  Eben- 
ezer's  arrest  that  had  allowed  him,  before  entering  the  posthouse  again, 
to  conceive  the  notion  of  posing  as  Laureate*  How  was  this  discrepancy 
to  be  accounted  for?  And  how  could  the  commission  have  disappeared,  if 
master  and  servant  owned  the  only  keys  to  the  trunk?  And  what  had  the 
wretch  to  gain  by  his  lying  tale  of  Anna  and  Henry  together  in  the  post- 
house?  Or  if  it  were  no  lie But  here  his  reeling  fancy  failed  him. 

"You  merit  no  lenience,"  he  said  in  a  calmer  tone,  "but  so  far  shall 
I  let  mercy  temper  justice,  I'll  speak  no  more  of  casting  you  astern.  Haply 
'twill  be  punishment  enough  to  spend  the  balance  of  your  years  in  Mary- 
land, since  you  fear  it  so.  For  the  rest,  confess  and  apologize  to  the  whole 
ship's  company  at  once,  and  let  future  merit  atone  for  past  defect." 

"Thou'rt  a  Solomon  for  judgment,"  Bertrand  cried,  "and  a  Christian 
saint  for  mercy!" 
"Let  us  go,  then,  and  have  done." 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  223  ] 

"At  once,  at  once,  sir,"  the  valet  agreed,  "if  ye  think  it  safe " 

"How  should  it  be  otherwise?" 

"Tis  plain,  sir,"  Bertrand  explained,  "there's  more  to  this  post  of  yours 
than  meets  the  eye.  I  know  not  what  passed  'twixt  you  and  Lord  Baltimore, 

nor  is't  my  business  to  enquire  what  secret  cause  ye've  sworn  to  further " 

Here  Ebenezer  let  forth  such  a  torrent  of  abuse  that  his  valet  had  need 
to  pause  before  continuing.  "All  in  the  world  I  mean,  sir,  is  that  your 
common  garden  laureate  is  not  set  upon  by  knaves  and  murtherers  at  every 
corner  as  I  have  been,  nor  is't  a  mere  distaste  for  rhyme,  methinks,  that 
drives  this  villain  Coode  to  seek  ye  out.  For  aught  we  know  he  may  be 
on  this  ship;  certain  he's  aboard  the  fleet,  and  Slye  and  Scurry  as  well " 

"Nay,  not  they,"  Ebenezer  said,  "but  haply  Coode."  He  described  Bur- 
Kngame's  strategem  briefly.  "  'Twas  Henry  bought  a  passage  in  your  name," 
he  explained,  "and  left  the  scoundrel  stranded  with  the  fleet." 

"  Twill  but  inflame  him  more,"  said  Bertrand,  "and  who  knows  what 
confederates  might  be  with  him?  Belike  he  hath  a  spy  on  every  boat!" 

"  'Twere  not  impossible,  from  what  I've  heard  of  him,"  Ebenezer  ad- 
mitted, "But  what's  the  aim  of  all  this  talk?  Think  you  to  persuade  me 
into  skulking  caution  and  not  to  tell  my  office  to  the  world?  Is't  to  weasel 
out  of  penance  and  confession?" 

Bertrand  protested  vigorously  against  such  misconstruction  of  his  motives. 
"Confess  I  shall,"  he  declared,  "right  readily,  and  mark  it  light  penance 
for  my  imposture— which  pray  recall  I  practiced  for  no  vicious  ends,  but 
to  save  that  part  which  makes  man  man.  Yet  penance  ne'er  healed  wound, 
sir."  He  went  on  to  praise  the  bounteous  and  forgiving  nature  of  his  master 
and  to  upbraid  himself  for  repaying  kindness  with  deceit— not  forgetting 
to  justify  once  more  his  imposture  and  to  review,  apropos  of  nothing,  sun- 
dry evidences  of  the  high  esteem  and  confidence  in  which  old  Andrew 
held  him.  At  length  he  concluded  by  maintaining  that  what  he  sought 
was  not  mere  penance  but  restitution;  some  means  wherewith  to  atone 
for  what  humiliation  and  discomfort  his  wholly  innocent  imposture  had 
occasioned  the  noblest  master  poor  servingman  ever  served. 

"And  what  means  is't  you  have  in  mind?"  the  poet  asked  warily. 

"Only  to  risk  my  life  for  yours,"  the  valet  said.  "Whatever  the  cause  you 
serve " 

"Enough,  damn  you!  I  serve  the  cause  of  Poetry,,  and  no  other." 

"What  I  meant,  sir,  is  that  whatever  Lord  Baltimore That  is  to 

say " 

"'Sblood,  then  say  it!" 


[  224  ]  J^E   SOT-WEED  FACTOR 


"Since  I  have  played  ye  to  your  hurt,"  said  Bertrand,  "let  me  play  ye 
to  your  profit.  Let  me  dare  the  rascal  Coode  in  your  name,  sir.  If  he  do 
me  in,  'twill  be  my  just  desert  and  your  salvation;  if  not,  there's  always 
time  for  clean  confession  when  we  land.  What  say  ye?" 

The  plan  so  astonished  Ebenezer  that  he  could  not  at  once  find  language 
strong  enough  to  scourge  the  planner  for  his  effrontery,  and—  alas!—  the 
moment  till  he  found  his  tongue  discovered  the  scheme's  unquestionable 
merits.  The  Laureateship  was  in  truth  a  perilous  post—  of  that  he'd  proof 
enough  by  now,  though  u>/iy  he'd  still  small  notion;  John  Coode  was  un- 
deniably aboard  the  fleet  and  doubtless  wroth  at  having  been  duped; 
Burlingame,  despite  his  fanciful  last  assurances,  was  not  on  hand  to  protect 
him.  Finally  and  most  persuasively,  the  poet  still  shuddered  at  his  morning's 
escape  from  Slye  and  Scurry  at  the  King  o*  the  Seas;  only  the  appearance 
of  Bertrand  in  the  street  had  saved  his  life, 

"If  'twill  ease  your  conscience,"  he  said  at  last,  "I  cannot  say  ye  nay, 
at  least  for  the  nonce—  'twill  give  me  time  to  write  some  verse  below.  But 
Coode  or  no  Coode,  Bertrand,  I  swear  you  this:  'tis  the  last  time  I'll  be  any 
man  whatever  save  Eben  Cooke.  D'you  hear?" 

"Very  good,  sir/'  Bertrand  nodded.  "Shall  I  send  word  to  the  Captain?" 

"Word?  Ah,  yes—  that  I'm  thy  Bertrand,  a  fop  that  makes  pretense  to 
glory.  Aye,  spread  the  word!" 


12:    THE  LAUREATE  DISCOURSES  ON  GAMES  OF 
CHANCE  AND  DEBATES  THE  RELATIVE  GENTILITY  OF 
VALETS  AND  POETS  LAUREATE.  BERTRAND  SETS 
FORTH  THE  ANATOMY  OF  SOPHISTICATION  AND 
DEMONSTRATES  HIS  THESIS 


WHEN   THE  POSEIDON,   RUNNING   BEFORE   A   FRESH  BREEZE   FROM   THE 

northeast,  left  Lizard  Point  behind  and  in  company  with  the  rest  of  the 
fleet  set  her  course  southwest  to  the  Azores,  life  on  shipboard  settled  into 
its  wonted  order.  The  passengers  had  little  or  nothing  to  do:  aside  from 
the  three  daily  messes  and,  for  those  who  had  the  ingredients  with  them, 
the  intervening  teas,  the  only  other  event  of  the  normal  day  was  the  an- 
nouncement of  the  estimated  distance  traveled  during  the  past  twenty-four 
hours.  Among  the  gentlemen  a  good  deal  of  money  changed  hands  on 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  225  ] 

this  announcement,  and  since  servants,  when  idle,  can  become  every  bit 
as  bored  as  their  masters,  they  too  made  bets  whenever  they  could  afford  to. 

The  wagering,  as  a  rule,  was  done  at  the  second  mess,  since  the  runs 
were  computed  from  noon  to  noon.  Upon  arising  in  the  morning,  every 
man  sought  out  some  member  of  the  crew,  to  inquire  about  the  progress 
of  the  night  past;  all  morning  the  company  watched  the  wind,  and  finally 
made  their  estimations.  At  midday  the  Captain  himself  mounted  the  poop 
deck,  quadrant  in  hand,  and  on  notice  from  the  first  mate  that  it  was 
twelve  o'clock  sharp,  made  the  traditional  "noon  sight"  for  longitude;  re- 
tiring then  to  his  quarters  he  computed  latitude  by  dead  reckoning  from 
the  compass  course  and  the  estimated  distance  run  since  the  last  measured 
elevation  of  the  polestar  before  dawn—which  crucial  figure  was  itself  reck- 
oned from  data  in  the  ship's  log  concerning  the  direction  and  velocity  of 
the  wind,  the  height  and  direction  of  the  seas,  and  the  making,  taking  in, 
and  setting  of  the  sails,,  together  with  the  Captain's  own  knowledge  of  the 
direction  and  velocity  of  ocean  currents  in  the  general  area  at  that  particular 
time  of  year,  and  of  the  ability  of  each  of  his  officers  to  get  the  most 
out  of  the  men  on  his  watch  and  the  ship  itself.  Since  even  under  full 
sail  the  Poseidon  rarely  made  more  than  six  miles  per  hour  and  never  more 
than  eight— in  other  words,  a  fast  walk— the  daily  run  could  be  anything 
from  zero,  given  a  calm  (or,  given  stormy  headwinds,  even  a  negative 
quantity),  up  to  one  hundred  ninety-two  miles—which  theoretical  maxi- 
mum, however,  she  never  managed  to  attain.  Having  computed  latitude  and 
longitude,  the  Captain  was  able  to  plot  the  Poseidon's  estimated  position 
on  his  chart  with  parallel  rule  and  dividers  and,  again  allowing  for  winds, 
currents,  the  leeway  characteristics  of  his  vessel,  and  compass  variation, 
he  could  give  the  helmsman  a  corrected  course  to  steer  until  further  notice. 
Finally  he  would  enter  the  main  cabin  for  his  midday  meal  with  the  ladies 
and  gentlemen  among  his  passengers,  who  in  the  meantime  had  pooled 
their  wagers  and  their  estimates  and,  after  announcing  the  official  figure, 
he  would  bid  the  mate  search  out  the  closest  approximation  from  among 
the  folded  bits  of  paper  and  identify  the  winner  of  the  day. 

The  basic  gamble  was  the  pool— five  to  ten  shillings  a  head,  usually,  for 
the  gentlemen  and  ladies;  a  shilling  or  less  for  the  servants— but  the  more 
ambitious  speculators  soon  contrived  a  variety  of  side  bets:  a  maximum 
or  minimum  figure,  for  example,  could  be  adjusted  for  virtually  any  odds 
desired,  or  one  could  gamble  on  a  maximum  or  minimum  differential  be- 
tween each  day's  run  and  the  next  one.  As  the  five  days  passed  and  boredom 
increased,  the  sport  grew  more  elaborate,  the  stakes  higher:  one  really  im- 


[226]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

aginative  young  minister  named  George  Tubman,  suspected  by  the  other 
passengers  of  being  a  professional  gambler  in  disguise,  devised  a  sliding- 
odds  system  for  accepting  daily  bets  on  the  date  of  raising  Flores  and  Corvo 
—the  westerly  isknds  of  the  Azores— a  system  whereby  the  announcement 
of  each  day's  run  altered  the  standing  odds  against  each  projected  date- 
of-landfall  according  to  principles  best  known  to  the  clever  young  man 
who  computed  them,  and  one  could  in  the  light  of  each  day's  progress 
make  new  wagers  to  reinforce  or  compensate  for  the  heightened  or  dimin- 
ished probability  of  one's  previous  wagers  on  the  same  event.  This  system 
had  the  advantages  of  cumulative  interest  and  a  tendency  towards 
geometrically  increasing  stakes,  for  when  a  man  saw  his  whole  previous 
speculative  investment  imperiled  by  an  unusually  long  or  short  day's  run, 
he  was  naturally  inclined  to  cover  himself  by  betting,  on  what  now  seemed 
a  more  promising  date,  an  amount  equal  to  or  exceeding  the  sum  of  his 
prior  wagers;  and  since,  of  course,  each  day  brought  the  Poseidon  closer 
to  a  landfall  and  narrowed  the  range  of  speculation,  the  odds  on  the  most 
likely  dates  lowered  sharply,  with  the  result  that  a  man  might  invest  five 
pounds  at  the  going  odds  on  a  currently  popular  date  in  order  to  cover  ten 
shillings  previously  wagered  on  a  now  unlikely  one,  only  to  find  two  or  three 
days  later  that  a  third,  much  larger,  bet  was  required  to  make  good 
the  second,  or  the  first  and  second  combined,  and  so  forth.  The  excitement 
grew  proportionately;  even  the  Captain,  though  he  shook  his  head  at  the 
ruinous  size  of  the  stakes,  followed  the  betting  with  unconcealed  interest, 
and  the  crew  members  themselves,  who,  of  course,  would  not  have  been 
permitted  to  join  in  the  game  even  if  they  could  have  afforded  it,  adopted 
favorites  among  the  bettors,  gave,  or  when  possible  sold,  "confidential"  in- 
formation on  the  ship's  progress  to  interested  parties,  made  private  little 
wagers  of  their  own  on  which  of  the  passengers  would  win  the  most  money, 
and  ultimately,  in  order  to  protect  their  own  bets,  volunteered  or  accepted 
bribes  to  convey  false  information  to  bettors  other  than  the  one  on  whom 
their  money  was  riding. 

For  his  part,  Ebenezer  wasted  little  interest  at  the  outset  on  this  activity, 
to  which  his  attention  had  been  called  early  in  the  first  week  of  the  voyage. 
One  sparkling  April  morning  Bertrand  had  approached  him  where  he  stood 
happily  in  the  bow  watching  seagulls  dive  for  fish,  and  had  asked,  in  a 
respectful  tone,  his  general  opinion  of  gambling.  In  good  spirits  because 
of  the  weather  and  a  commendable  breakfast,  and  pleased  to  be  thus  con- 
sulted, Ebenezer  had  explored  the  subject  cheerfully  and  at  length. 

'To  ask  a  man  what  he  thinks  of  gambling  is  as  much  as  to  ask  him  what 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  227  ] 

he  thinks  of  life/'  was  one  of  the  positions  he  experimented  with.  "Doth 
not  the  mackerel  gamble,  each  time  he  rises,  that  yonder  gulls  won't  snatch 
him  up,  and  the  gulls  make  wager  that  they  will?  Are  we  not  gamblers 
all,  that  match  wits  with  the  ocean  on  this  ship  of  wood?  Nay,  life  itself 
is  but  a  lifelong  gamble,  is't  not?  From  the  moment  of  conception  our 
life  is  on  the  line;  every  meal,  every  step,  every  turning  is  a  dare  to  death; 
all  men  are  the  fools  of  chance  save  the  suicide,  and  even  he  must  wager 
that  there  is  no  Hell  to  fry  in.  Who  loves  life,  then,  perforce  loves  gambling, 
for  he  is  Dame  Chance's  conquest.  Moreover,  every  gambler  is  an  optimist, 
for  no  man  wagers  who  thinks  to  lose." 

Bertrand  beamed.  'Then  ye  favor  games  of  chance?" 

"Ah,  ah/'  the  Laureate  cautioned.  He  cocked  his  head,  waggled  a  fore- 
finger, and  quoted  a  proverb  which  unaccountably  made  him  blush:  "There 
are  more  ways  to  the  woods  than  one.  It  could  as  well  be  argued  that  the 
gambler  is  a  pessimistic  atheist,  inasmuch  as  he  counts  man's  will  as  naught. 
To  wager  is  to  allow  the  sovereignty  of  chance  in  all  events,  which  is 
as  much  as  to  say,  God  hath  no  hand  in  things." 

"Then  ye  don't  look  kindly  on't  after  all?" 

"Stay,  not  so  fast:  one  could  as  readily  say  the  contrary— that  your 
Hobbesian  materialist  should  never  be  a  gambler,  for  no  man  gambles 
that  doth  not  believe  in  luck,  and  to  believe  in  luck  is  to  deny  blind  chance 
and  cold  determinism,  as  well  as  the  materialist  order  of  things.  Who 
says  Yea  to  Luck,  in  short,  had  as  well  say  Yea  to  God,  and  conversely." 

"In  Heav'n's  name,  then!"  Bertrand  cried,  rather  less  respectfully  than 
at  first.  "What  do  ye  think  of  gambling— yea  or  nay?" 

But  Ebenezer  would  not  be  pressed.  "  Tis  one  of  those  questions  that 
have  many  sides,"  he  said  blithely,  and  by  way  of  indicating  that,  for  the 
present  at  least,  he'd  nothing  farther  to  say  on  the  subject  turned  his  atten- 
tion again  to  the  gulls:  Contrary  to  his  expectations,, his  position  aboard 
the  Poseidon  was  turning  out  to  be  by  no  means  altogether  unpleasant. 
He  had  contrived  to  establish  himself  as  being  not  another  common  servant 
but  a  kind  of  amanuensis  to  the  Laureate,  in  which  capacity  he  was  per- 
mitted access  to  the  quarter-deck  at  Bertrand's  side  and  limited  converse 
with  the  gentlemen;  there  was  no  need  to  conceal  his  education,  since 
positions  of  the  sort  he  pretended  to  were  frequently  filled  by  destitute 
scholars,  and  by  making  Bertrand  out  to  be  the  lofty,  taciturn  variety  of 
genius,  he  hoped  to  be  able  to  speak  for  him  more  often  than  not  and 
thus  protect  their  disguise.  Moreover,  he  could  devote  as  much  time  as 
he  chose  to  his  notebook  and  even  borrow  books  from  the  gentlemen  pas- 


f  228  ]  THE.  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

sengers  without  arousing  suspicion;  an  amanuensis  was  expected  to  busy 
himself  with  ink,  paper,  and  books,  especially  when  his  employer  was  a  poet 
laureate.  In  short,  it  became  ever  more  clear  to  him  as  the  voyage  progressed 
that  his  role  offered  most  of  the  privileges  of  his  true  identity  and  none  of 
the  dangers,  and  he  counted  the  disguise  among  his  happiest  inspirations. 
While  the  servants  relieved  their  ennui  with  gambling  and  gossip  about 
their  masters  and  mistresses,  and  the  ladies  and  gentlemen  with  gambling 
and  gossip  about  one  another,  Ebenezer  passed  the  hours  agreeably  in  the 
company  of  his  own  work  or  that  of  celebrated  authors  of  the  past,  with 
whom,  since  his  commission,  he  felt  a  strong  spiritual  kinship. 

Indeed,  the  only  thing  he  really  found  objectionable,  once  his  initial 
embarrassment  was  forgotten  and  he  had  grown  accustomed  to  his  position, 
was  mealtimes.  For  one  thing,  the  food  was  not  what  he  had  imagined:  the 
last  entry  in  his  notebook,  made  just  before  he  fell  asleep  in  the  stable 
of  the  King  o'  the  Seas,  had  been: 

You  ask,  What  eat  our  merry  Band 
En  Route  to  lovely  MARYLAND? 
I  answer.  Ne'er  were  such  Delights 
As  met  our  Sea-sharp*  d  Appetites 
E'er  serv'd  to  Jove  and  Junos  Breed 
By  Vulcan  and  by  Ganymede* 

To  which,  during  his  very  first  day  as  Bertrand's  amanuensis,  he  had  ap- 
pended: 

The  Finest  from  two  Hemispheres, 
From  roasted  Beef  to  Quarter1  d  Deers; 
The  Best  of  new  and  antick  Worlds, 
Fine  curry7  d  Lamb  and  basted  Squirrek. 
We  wash'd  all  down  with  liquid  cheer — 
Barbados  Rum  and  English  Beer. 
'Twere  vain  to  seek  a  nobler  Feast 
In  legend' d  West  or  story' d  East, 
Than  this  our  plenteous  Shipboard  Store 
Provided  fey  LORD  BALTIMORE, 

This  even  though  he  had  in  fact  seen  nothing  at  either  breakfast  or  dinner 
more  exotic  than  eggs,  fresh  veal,  and  a  few  indifferently  prepared  vegetables. 
But  three  days  sufficed  to  exhaust  the  Poseidon's  store  of  every  perishable 
foodstuff;  on  the  fourth  appeared  instead,  to  Ebenezer's  unhappy  surprise, 
the  usual  fare  of  sailors  and  sea-travelers:  a  weekly  ration  of  seven  pounds 
of  bread  or  ship  biscuit  for  master  and  man  alike,  with  butter  scarce  enough 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [229] 

to  disguise  its  tastelessness;  half  a  pound  of  salt  pork  and  dried  peas  per 
man  each  mess  for  five  days  out  of  the  week,  and  on  the  other  two  salt 
beef  instead  of  pork— except  when  the  weather  was  too  foul  for  the  cook 
to  boil  the  kettle,  in  which  case  every  soul  aboard  made  do  for  the  day  with 
a  pound  of  English  cheese  and  dreams  of  home. 

All  this,  however,  was  mere  disillusionment,  the  fault  not  of  Lord  Balti- 
more, the  captain  of  the  Poseidon,  or  the  social  order,  but  merely  of  Eben- 
ezer's own  naivete  or,  as  he  himself  felt  mildly,  not  troubling  to  put  it 
into  words,  of  the  nature  of  Reality,  which  had  failed  to  measure  up  to 
his  expectations.  In  any  case,  though  the  food  grew  no  more  palatable,  he 
soon  became  sufficiently  inured  to  it  not  to  feel  disappointed  between  meals, 
A  more  considerable  objection— which  led  him  one  afternoon  to  profess 
his  discontent  to  Bertrand— was  that  he  had  to  eat  with  the  servants  after 
the  ladies  and  gentlemen  were  finished. 

"Think  not  'tis  the  mere  ignominy  oft,"  he  assured  his  valet  hastily, 
"though  in  truth  they  are  an  uncouth  lot  and  are  forever  making  sport  of 
me.  Tis  you  I  fear  for;  that  you'll  be  drawn  into  talk  at  the  Captain's  table 
and  discover  yourself  for  an  ass.  Thrice  daily  I  wait  for  news  of  your  dis- 
grace, and  despair  of  carrying  the  fraud  to  Maryland!" 

"Ah,  now,  sir,  have  no  fear."  They  were  in  the  ship's  waist,  and  Bertrand 
seemed  less  concerned  with  Ebenezer's  complaint  than  with  watching  a 
young  lady  who  stood  with  the  Captain  by  the  taffrail.  "There's  no  great 
trick  to  this  gentleman  business,  that  I  can  see;  any  man  could  play  the 
part  that  hath  a  ready  wit  and  keeps  his  eyes  and  ears  open." 

"Indeed!  I'd  say  so  much  for  my  disguise,  perhaps;  they  are  no  fools 
you  dine  with,  though,  but  men  of  means  and  breeding." 

But  so  far  from  being  chastened  by  this  remark,  the  valet  actually  chal- 
lenged it,  still  watching  the  maid  more  than  his  master  while  he  talked. 

"Marry,  sir,  none  knows  better  than  your  servant  the  merits  of  wealth 
and  birth/'  he  declared  benignly.  "Yet,  may  I  hang  for't  if  any  man  was 
e'er  more  bright  or  virtuous  for  either."  He  went  on  to  swear  by  all  his 
experience  with  fine  ladies  and  gentlemen,  both  as  their  servant  and  as 
their  peer,  that  no  poor  scullery  maid  among  Ebenezer's  messmates  was 
more  a  hussy  than  yonder  maiden  on  the  poop  deck,  for  example,  whom 
he  identified  as  one  Miss  Lucy  Robotham.  "For  all  her  fine  clothes  and 
fancy  speech,  sir,  she  blushed  not  a  blush  this  noontime  when  the  Captain 
pinched  her  'neath  the  table,  but  smartly  pinched  him  back!  And  not  a 
half  hour  later,  what  time  I  took  her  hand  to  help  her  up  the  stairway, 
what  did  she  do  if  not  make  a  scratching  in  my  palm?  A  whore's  a  whore 


[  2  JO  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

whate'er  her  station"  he  concluded,  "and  a  fool  a  fool  whate'er  his  wealth!9 

Ebenezer  did  not  question  the  verity  of  this  democratic  notion,  but  he 
denied  its  relevance  to  the  problem.  "  Tis  not  character  and  mother  wit 
that  make  your  gentleman,  Bertrand,"  he  said,  adding  the  name  in  order 
to  draw  his  man's  eyes  from  Miss  Robotham.  "  'Tis  manners  and  education. 
By  a  thousand  signs  the  gentleman  knows  his  peer— a  turn  of  phrase,  a 
choice  of  wine,  a  flourish  of  the  quill— and  by  as  many  spies  the  fraud  or 
parvenu.  Be  you  never  so  practiced  at  aping  'em,  'tis  but  a  matter  of  time 
till  they  find  you  out.  A  slip  of  the  tongue,  a  slip  of  the  fork:  any  trifle 
might  betray  you." 

"Aye,"  laughed  the  other,  "but  for  what,  prithee?" 

"Why,  for  not  a  gentleman  'to  the  manner  born/  as't  were!"  Ebenezer 
was  disturbed  by  the  increasing  arrogance  of  his  servant,  who  had  not 
wanted  presumption  to  begin  with.  "How  shall  you  answer  them  book  for 
book,  that  have  no  books  to  your  credit?  How  shall  you  hold  forth  on  the 
new  plays  in  London  or  the  state  of  things  on  the  Continent,  that  have 
not  been  through  a  university?  Your  true  authentic  gentleman  is  gallant 
but  not  a  fop,  witty  but  no  buffoon,  grave  but  not  an  owl,  informed  but 
not  a  pedant— in  sum,  he  hath  of  every  quality  neither  excess  nor  defect, 
but  the  very  Golden  Mean." 

To  which  the  valet  rejoined  with  a  wave  and  a  smile,  "Haply  so,  f  faith, 
haply  so!"  And  might  have  said  more  had  not  Ebenezer,  his  interest  in 
the  matter  fanned  by  his  growing  irritation,  at  once  resumed  his  discourse. 

"And  just  as  the  speech  of  the  gentleman  is  to  the  speech  of  the  crowd 
as  is  the  lark's  song  to  the  rooster's  but  that  of  the  poet  like  an  angel's 
to  the  lark's,  so  the  gentleman  himself  is  a  prince  among  men,  and  the 
poet  should  be  a  prince  among  gentlemen!" 

"Haply  so,  sir,  haply  'tis  so,"  Bertrand  said  again,  and  turning  now  to 
his  master  added,  "But  would  ye  believe  it?  So  wretched  is  this  memory 
of  mine,  that  though  I  wrote  out  your  commission  word  for  word  in  ink, 
and  saw  clear  as  gospel  where  it  caused  a  gentleman  to  be  a  laureate  poet, 
I  cannot  summon  up  the  part  that  makes  your  laureate  be  a  gentleman! 
And  so  miserable  are  these  eyes  and  ears,  they've  tricked  me  into  thinking 
all  the  poets  they  e'er  laid  hold  of— such  as  Masters  Oliver,  Trent,  and 
Merriweather  back  in  London,  to  name  no  farther— that  all  these  rhyming 
wights  have  not  a  Golden  Mean  between  'em,  nor  yet  a  Brass  or  Kitchen- 
copper!  'Sblood,  to  speak  plainly,  they  are  sober  as  jackanapes,  modest  as 
peacocks,  chaste  as  billy  goats,  soft-tongued  as  magpies,  brave  as  church- 
mice,  and  mannerly  as  cats  in  heat!  Your  common,  everyday  valet,  if  I  may 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  231  ] 

say  so,  is  like  to  be  twice  the  gentleman  your  poet  e'er  could  dream  of! 
Nay,  he's  oft  a  nicer  spirit  than  the  gentleman  his  master,  as  all  the  world 
knows,  and  hath  not  his  peer  for  how  wigs  should  be  powdered  or  guests 
placed  at  table.  'Tis  he  and  not  your  poet,  I  should  say,  that  is  the  gentle- 
man's gentlemanl" 

Ebenezer  was  too  taken  aback  by  this  outburst  to  do  more  than  squint 
his  eyes  and  cry  "Stay!"  But  Bertrand  would  not  be  put  off. 

"Yet  as  for  that,"  he  went  on,  "  'tis  little  stead  my  gentleman's  lore  stands 
me,  now  I'm  a  laureate  poet!  Marry,  the  ladies  and  gentlemen  I've  met, 
so  far  from  seeing  their  poet  as  a  gentleman,  look  on  him  as  a  sort  of  saint, 
trick  ape,  court  fool,  and  gypsy  soothsayer  rolled  in  one.  Your  ladies  tell 
me  things  no  Popish  priest  e'er  heard  of,  fuss  over  me  as  o'er  a  lapdog,  and 
make  me  signs  a  gigolo  would  blush  at;  they  worship  and  contemn  me 
by  turns,  as  half  a  god  and  half  a  traveling  clown.  And  the  gentlemen, 
f  God!  They  think  me  mad  or  dullwitted  out  of  hand;  for  who  but  your 
madman  would  turn  his  hand  to  verse,  save  one  too  numskulled  to  turn 
it  to  money?  In  short  and  in  sum,  sir,  they'd  call  me  no  poet  at  all,  or  a 
poor  one  at  best,  if  e'er  I  should  utter  e'en  a  sensible  remark,  to  say  nothing 
of  a  civil But  think  not  I'm  so  fond  as  that!" 

Ebenezer's  features  roiled,  settling  finally  into  a  species  of  frown.  Really, 
the  fellow  had  got  impossible!  Both  men  were  given  wholly  to  the  argu- 
ment now,  which  had  perforce  to  be  conducted  in  low  tones;  they  faced 
seawards,  their  elbows  on  the  rail  and  their  backs  to  Miss  Robotham,  who 
had  descended  from  the  high  poop  to  the  quarter-deck  on  the  opposite 
side  of  the  vessel. 

"I  grant  you  this,"  he  said,  "that  a  prating  coxcomb  of  a  poet  may  be 
guilty  of  boorishness,  as  a  bad  valet  may  be  guilty  of  presumption,  and 
both  may  be  guilty  of  affectation;  I  grant  you  farther  that  the  best  poet 
is  never  in  essence  a  gentleman " 

"Unlike  your  best  valet,"  Bertrand  put  in. 

"As  for  that,"  Ebenezer  said  sharply,  "your  valet  that  outshines  his  mas- 
ter in's  knowledge  of  etiquette  and  fashion  is  like  the  rustic  that  can 
recite  more  Scripture  than  the  theologian:  his  single  gift  betrays  his  limita- 
tions. The  gentleman  valet  and  the  gentleman  poet  have  this  in  common, 
that  their  gentlemanliness  is  for  each  a  mask.  But  the  mask  of  the  valet 
masks  a  varlet,  while  the  poet's  masks  a  godl" 

"Oh  la,  sir!" 

"Let  me  finish!"  Ebenezer's  eyes  were  bright,  his  blond  brows  crooked 
and  beetled.  "Who  more  so  than  the  poet  needs  every  godlike  gift?  He 


[232]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

hath  the  painter's  eye,  the  musician's  ear,  the  philosopher's  mind,  the  bar- 
rister's persuasion;  like  a  god  he  sees  the  secret  souls  of  things,  the  essence 
'neath  their  forms,  their  priviest  connections.  Godlike  he  knows  the  springs 
of  good  and  evil:  the  seed  of  sainthood  in  the  mind  of  murtherer,.  the  worm 
of  lechery  in  the  heart  of  a  nun!  Nay,  farther:  as  the  poet  among  gentle- 
men is  as  a  pearl  among  polished  stones,  so  must  the  Laureate  be  a  diamond 
in  the  pearls,  a  prince  among  poets,  their  flower  and  exemplar— even  a 
prince  among  princes!  To  him  do  kings  commit  their  secular  immortality, 
as  they  commit  their  souls'  to  God!  Small  mystery  that  the  first  verse  was 
religious  and  the  earliest  poets  pagan  priests,  as  some  declare,  or  that  Plato 
calls  the  source  of  poetry  a  divine  madness  like  that  of  seers  and  sibyls.  If 
your  true  poet  strays  from  the  path  of  good  demeanor,  'tis  but  the  mark 
of  his  calling,  an  access  of  the  muse;  yet  the  laureate,  though  in  truth  he 
hath  by  necessity  the  greatest  infusion  of  this  madness,  must  exercise  a 
truly  godlike  self-restraint,  for  he  is  to  men  the  ambassador  and  emblem 
of  his  art:  he  is  obliged  not  only  to  his  muse,  but  to  his  fellow  poets  as 
well." 

Thus  argued  the  Laureate,  whose  esteem  for  his  office  had  risen  with  each 
meal  at  the  servants'  mess;  nor  could  Bertrand's  most  eloquent  defense  of 
the  art  of  valetry  quite  mollify  his  discontent. 

"  'Tis  your  wish,  then,"  Bertrand  asked  finally,  "that  in  all  things  I  play 
the  gentleman?" 
"In  every  way." 

"And  take  their  actions  as  my  model?" 
"Nothing  less." 

"Why,  then,  I  must  beg  some  money  of  ye,  sir,"  he  declared  with  a  laugh, 
and  explained  that  the  last  ten  shillings  of  his  own  small  savings  had  that 
very  noon  been  sacrificed  in  the  distance-run  pool,  in  which  as  a  gentleman 
he  was  absolutely  obliged  to  participate. 

"Ah,  'twas  for  that  you  asked  my  thoughts  on  gambling  some  while  past." 

"I  must  confess  it,"  Bertrand  said,  and  reminded  his  master  that  as  much 

could  be  said  in  favor  of  gambling  as  against  it.  "Besides  which,  sir,  I  must 

keep  on  with't  now  I've  begun,  as  well  to  guard  our  masks  as  to  make  good 

my  losses." 

Now,  Ebenezer  himself  had  in  reserve  only  what  little  he'd  saved  from 
his  years  with  the  merchant  Peter  Paggen,  the  whole  of  which  did  not 
exceed  forty  pounds;  but  at  Bertrand's  insistence  that  no  smaller  sum  would 
do,  he  fetched  out  twenty  from  his  trunk  and,  returning  to  the  rail  where 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  233  ] 

his  proxy  waited,  passed  him  the  money  surreptitiously  with  suitable  ad- 
monitions and  enjoinders. 

At  this  point  their  conversation  was  interrupted  by  that  same  Miss 
Robotham  earlier  aspersed  by  Bertrand;  at  a  thump  on  the  shoulder  they 
turned  to  find  her  standing  close  behind  them,  and  Ebenezer  paled  at  the 
thought  of  what  perhaps  she'd  heard. 

"Madam!"  he  said,  whipping  off  his  hat.  "Your  servant!" 

"  Tis  your  master  I  want/'  the  girl  said,  and  turned  her  back  to  him. 
She  was  a  brown-haired,  excellently  breasted  maid  of  twenty  years  or  so, 
and  though  a  certain  grossness  both  of  manner  and  complexion  showed 
a  rustic,  or  at  least  colonial,  essence  beneath  the  elegance  of  her  dress,  yet 
it  seemed  likely  to  Ebenezer  that  she  was  more  innocent  than  concupiscient. 
In  fact,  for  the  first  time  since  describing  his  plight  to  Henry  in  the  Plym- 
outh coach,  he  was  reminded  of  Joan  Toast,  his  delicate  concern  for  whom 
had  precipitated  his  departure  from  London:  there  was  some  similarity  in 
eyes  and  skin  and  forthright  manner. 

Bertrand,  who  had  made  no  move  to  duplicate  his  master's  courtesy, 
leaned  upon  the  railing  and  regarded  the  visitor  with  a  look  of  crude  ap- 
praisal. Not  daunted  in  the  least,  she  clasped  her  hands  pertly,  bounced  a 
few  times  on  her  heels,  and  said,  "I've  a  literary  question  for  you,  Mr. 
Cooke." 

"Aha,"  said  Bertrand,  and  chucked  her  under  the  chin.  "What  hath  a 
tight  young  piece  like  you  to  do  with  literature,  pray?" 

Ebenezer,  as  alarmed  by  the  request  as  by  his  man's  vulgarity,  made 
haste  to  offer  his  services  instead,  suggesting  that  the  Laureate  should  not 
be  bothered  with  trifling  questions. 

"Then  what's  the  use  of  him?"  the  maid  demanded,  feigning  a  pout. 
Then  she  pursed  her  lips,  arched  her  brows,  and  added  merrily,  still  in 
Bertrand's  direction,  "Am  I  to  suffer  his  lecherous  stares  for  naught?  He'll 
say  what  poet  wrote  Out,  out,  strumpet  Fortune,  and  say't  this  instant, 
else  my  father  shall  know  what  poet  tweaked  me  noontime  where  I  blush 
to  mention  and  left  me  a  bruise  to  show  for't!" 

"The  moral  to  that,"  Bertrand  said,  "is,  Who  hath  skirts  of  straw  must 
needs  stay  clear  of  fire." 

"Moral!  Thou'rt  a  proper  priest  to  speak  of  morals!  Enough  now:  who 
said  Out,  out,  strumpet  Fortune,  Shakespeare  or  Marlowe?  I've  two  bob 
on't  with  Captain  Meech,  that  thinks  him  such  a  scholar." 

Alarmed  lest  his  servant  give  the  game  away,  either  by  his  reply  or  by 


[234]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

his  conduct^  Ebenezer  was  about  to  interrupt  with  the  answer,  but  Bertrand 
gave  him  no  opportunity. 

"Captain  Meech,  is't!"  he  exclaimed,  with  a  teasing  frown  and  a  sidelong 
look.  'Til  bet  two  bob  myself  that  for  any  bruise  o'  mine  ye've  three  of 
his  to  sit  on!" 

Miss  Robotham  and  Ebenezer  both  protested,  the  latter  genuinely. 

"No?  Take  a  pound  on't,  then,"  Bertrand  laughed.  "My  pound  against 
your  shilling.  But  mind,  I  must  see  the  proof  myself!"  He  then  asked  what 
poet  she'd  bet  on,  offering  to  swear  that  man  had  penned  the  line. 

"The  Laureate  hath  not  his  peer  for  gallantry,"  Ebenezer  observed  with 
relief  to  Miss  Robotham's  youthful  back.  "And  in  sooth,  if  chivalry  be 
served,  what  matters  it  that  William " 

"Oh  no,"  the  girl  protested,  cutting  him  off,  'Til  have  no  favors  from 
you,  Mister  Laureate,  for  I  well  know  what  'twill  cost  me  in  the  end!  Be- 
sides which,  I  know  the  answer  for  a  fact,  and  want  no  more  than  to  hav't 
confirmed: 

Out,  out,  thou  strumpet  Fortune!  Ml  you  gods 

In  general  synod  take  away  her  power. 

Knock  all  her  spokes  and  fellies  out, 

And  bowl  the  round  nave  down  the  hill  of  Heaven, 

As  low  as  to  the  fiends!" 

"Well  done,  well  done!"  Ebenezer  applauded.  "The  Player  himself 
pleased  Hamlet  no  more  with't  than  you " 

"Marry,  all  those  knaves  and  strumpets!"  Bertrand  exclaimed.  "Whoever 
wrote  it  is  a  randy  wight,  now,  ain't  he?  To  speak  the  truth,  young  lady, 
I  might  have  scratched  it  out  myself,  for  aught  I  know." 

"If  you  please,  ma'am!"  Ebenezer  cried,  aghast  at  Bertrand's  ignorance 
and  the  peril  of  the  situation.  This  time  he  forced  himself  between  them 
and  took  her  arm  as  though  to  lead  her  off.  "You  must  forgive  my  rudeness, 
but  I  cannot  let  you  annoy  the  Laureate  farther!" 

"Annoy  him!"  Miss  Robotham  snatched  her  arm  away.  "Me  annoy  him!'7 

"I  quite  commend  your  interest  in  verse,  which  is  rare  enough  e'en  in 
a  London  girl,"  the  poet  went  on,  speaking  rapidly  and  glancing  about  to 
see  if  others  were  watching  them,  "and  'tis  no  reflection  on  your  rearing 
that  you  presume  so  on  this  great  man's  gallantry,  seeing  thou'rt  from  the 
plantations;  yet  I  must  explain " 

"Hear  the  wretch!"  Miss  Robotham  applied  for  sympathy  first  to  an 
imaginary  audience  and  then  specifically  to  Captain  Meech,  whom  she  saw 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  235  1 

approaching  from  aft,  "I  ask  Mr.  Cooke  a  civil  question,  and  this  fellow 
calls  me  a  mannerless  bumpkin!" 

"Never  mind  him,"  the  Captain  said  good-humoredly,  not  without  a 
brief  scowl  at  the  offender.  "Who  wins  the  bet?" 

"Oh,  everybody  knows  'twas  Shakespeare  wrote  it,"  she  said,  "but  Mr. 
Cooke's  as  great  a  tease  as  you:  he  swears  'twas  he  himself." 

"Grand  souls  are  ever  wont  to  speak  in  epigrams,"  Ebenezer  explained 
desperately.  "Haply  it  seemed  a  mere  tease  on  the  face  oft,  but  underneath 
'tis  deep  enough  a  thought:  the  Laureate  means  that  one  great  poet  feels 
such  kinship  with  another,  in's  the  service  of  the  Muse,  'tis  as  if  Will  Shakes- 
peare and  Ebenezer  Cooke  were  one  and  the  selfsame  man!" 

"My  loss,  then,"  sighed  the  Captain,  more  in  reply  to  Miss  Robotham's 
remark  than  to  Ebenezer's.  "Henceforth,"  he  promised  Bertrand,  "I'll 
stick  to  my  last  and  leave  learning  to  the  learned." 

"Heav'n  forbid!"  Bertrand  laughed.  He  had  paid  no  heed  whatever  to 
Ebenezer's  previous  alarm.  "I  lose  enough  on  your  seamanship  without 
betting  against  ye  in  the  pool!" 

Captain  Meech  then  declaring  with  a  wink  that  all  his  money  was  in 
his  quarters,  Miss  Robotham  strode  off  on  his  arm  to  collect  her  winnings. 

Bertrand  looked  after  them  enviously.  "By  God,  that  is  a  saucy  piece!" 

"Tis  all  up  with  us!"  Ebenezer  groaned,  as  soon  as  the  couple  was 
out  of  earshot.  "You've  spiked  our  guns  for  fair!"  He  turned  again  to 
the  ocean  and  buried  his  face  in  his  hands. 

"What?  Not  a  bit  oft!  Did  ye  see  how  she  purred  when  I  chuckled  her 
chin?" 

"You  treated  her  like  a  two-shilling  tart!" 

"No  more  than  what  she  is,"  Bertrand  said.  "D'ye  think  she's  playing 
at  cards  with  Meech  right  now?" 

"But  her  father  is  Colonel  Robotham  of  Talbot  County,  that  used  to 
sit  on  the  Maryland  Council!" 

Bertrand  was  unimpressed.  "I  know  him  well  enough.  Yet  'tis  a  queer 
father  will  hear  his  daughter  prate  of  knaves  and  strumpets,  I  must  say, 
and  recite  her  smutty  verses  at  the  table." 

"God  save  us!"  cried  the  Laureate.  "Where  were  we  now  had  I  not  been 
here  to  gloss  your  answer  and  turn  your  babbling  into  sense?  Marry,  if 
you  don't  discover  us  with  your  blunders,  you'll  have  us  horsewhipped 
with  your  foul  behavior!  Speak  no  more  of  the  valet's  refinement,  i'God; 
I've  seen  enough  oft,  and  of  his  ignorance!" 

"Ah  now,  compose  thyself,"  said  Bertrand.  "Twas  the  Laureate  I  was 


[  236  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

playing,  not  the  valet,  or  ye'd  have  seen  refinement  and  to  spare.  I  knew 
what  I  was  about." 

"You  knew " 

"As  for  this  same  raillery  and  bookish  converse  your  fine  folk  set  such 
store  by/'  he  went  on  testily,  "any  gentleman's  gentleman  like  myself  that 
hath  stood  off  a  space  and  seen  it  whole  can  tell  ye  plainly  the  object  oft, 
which  is:  to  sound  out  the  other  fellow's  sentiments  on  a  matter  and 
then  declare  a  cleverer  sentiment  yourself.  The  difference  here  'twixt  simple 
and  witty  folk,  if  the  truth  be  known,  is  that  your  plain  man  cares  much 
for  what  stand  ye  take  and  not  a  fart  for  why  ye  take  it,  while  your  smart 
wight  leaves  ye  whatever  stand  ye  will,  sobeit  ye  defend  it  cleverly.  Add  to 
which,  what  any  valet  can  tell  ye,  most  things  men  speak  of  have  but  two 
sides  to  their  name,  and  at  every  rung  on  the  ladder  of  wit  ye  hear  one 
held  forth  as  gospel,  with  the  other  above  and  below." 
"Ladder  of  wit!  What  madness  is  this?"  Ebenezer  demanded. 
"No  madness  save  the  world's,  sir,  if  ye'll  see  the  matter  whole.  Take 
your  wig  question,  now,  that's  such  a  thing  in  London:  whether  to  wear 
a  bob  or  a  full-bottom  peruke.  Your  simple  tradesman  hath  no  love  for 
fashion  and  wears  a  bob  on's  natural  hair  the  better  to  labor  in;  but  give 
him  ten  pound  and  a  fortnight  to  idle,  he'll  off  to  the  shop  for  a  great 
French  shag  and  a  ha'peck  of  powder,  and  think  him  the  devil's  own  fellow! 
Then  get  ye  a  dozen  such  idlers;  the  sharpest  among  'em  will  buy  him 
a  bob  wig  with  lofty  preachments  on  the  tyranny  of  fashion— haven't  I 
heard  'em!— and  think  him  as  far  o'er  his  full-bottomed  fellows  as  they 
o'er  the  merchants'  sons  and  bob-haired  'prentices.  Yet  only  climb  a  rung 
the  higher,  and  it's  back  to  the  full-bottom,  on  a  sage  that's  seen  so  many 
crop-wigs  feigning  sense,  he  knows  'tis  but  a  pose  of  practicality  and  gets 
him  a  name  for  the  cleverest  of  all  by  showing  their  sham  to  the  light  of 
day.  But  a  grade  o'er  him  is  the  bob  again,  on  the  pate  of  some  philosopher, 
and  over  that  the  full-bottom,  and  so  on.  Or  take  your  French  question: 
the  rustical  wight  is  all  for  England  and  thinks  each  Frenchman  the  Devil 
himself,  but  a  year  in  London  and  he'll  sneer  at  the  simple  way  his  farm 
folk  reason.  Then  comes  a  man  who's  traveled  that  road  who  says,  Tlague 
take  this  foppish  shill-I,  shall-l!  When  all's  said  and  done  'tis  England 
to  the  end!';  and  after  him  your  man  that's  been  abroad  and  vows  'tis  not 
a  matter  of  sMl-I,  shall-I  to  one  who's  traveled,  for  no  folk  are  cleverer 
than  the  clever  French,  'gainst  which  your  English  townsman's  but  a  bump- 
kin. Next  yet's  the  man  who's  seen  not  France  alone  but  every  blessed 
province  on  the  globe;  he  says  'tis  the  novice  traveler  sings  such  praise 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  237  ] 

for  Paris—the  man  who's  seen  'em  all  comes  home  to  England  and  carries 
all's  refinement  in  his  heart.  But  then  comes  your  grand  skeptical  philos- 
opher, that  will  not  grant  right  to  either  side;  and  after  him  a  grander, 
that  knows  no  side  is  right  but  takes  sides  anyway  for  the  clever  nonsense 
oft;  and  after  him  your  worldly  saint,  that  says  he's  past  all  talk  of  wars  and 
kings  fore'er,  and  gets  him  a  great  name  for  virtue.  And  after  him " 

''Enough,  I  beg  you!"  Ebenezer  cried,  "My  head  spinsl  For  God's  sake 
what's  your  point?" 

"No  more  than  what  I  said  before,  sir:  that  de'il  the  bit  ye've  tramped 
about  the  world,  and  bleared  your  eyes  with  books,  and  honed  your  wits 
in  clever  company,  whate'er  ye  yea  is  nay'd  by  the  man  just  a  wee  bit  simpler 
and  again  by  the  fellow  just  a  wee  bit  brighter,  so  that  clever  folk  care  less 
for  what  ye  think  than  why  ye  think  it.  'Tis  this  that  saves  me." 

But  Ebenezer  could  not  see  why.  "  Tis  that  shall  scotch  you,  I  should 
fancy!  A  fool  can  parrot  a  wise  man's  judgment  but  never  hope  to  defend 
it." 

"And  only  a  fool  would  try/'  said  Bertrand,  with  upraised  finger.  'Your 
poet  hath  no  need  to." 

Ebenezer's  features  did  a  dance. 

"What  I  mean,  sir,"  Bertrand  explained,  "when  they  come  upon  me  with 
one  of  their  mighty  questions—only  yestere'en,  for  instance,  they'd  have 
me  say  my  piece  on  witchery,  whether  I  believed  in  it  or  no— why,  all 
I  do  is  smile  me  a  certain  smile  and  say,  Why  not?'  and  there's  an  end 
on'tl  The  ones  that  agree  are  pleased  enough,  and  as  for  the  skeptical 
fellows,  they've  no  way  to  tell  if  I'm  a  spook-ridden  dullard  or  a  breed  of 
mystic  twice  as  wise  as  they.  Your  poet  need  never  trouble  his  head  to 
explain  at  all:  men  think  he  hath  a  passkey  to  Dame  Truth's  bedchamber 
and  smiles  at  the  scholars  building  ladders  in  the  court.  This  Civility  and 
Sense  ye  preach  of  are  his  worst  enemies;  he  must  pinch  the  ladies'  bosoms 
and  pull  the  schoolmen's  beards.  His  manner  is  his  whole  argument,  as't 
were,  and  that  certain  whimsical  smile  his  sole  rebuttal." 

"No  more,"  Ebenezer  said  sharply.  "I'll  hear  no  more!" 

Bertrand  smiled  his  whimsical  smile.  "Yet  surely  'tis  the  simple  truth?" 

"There  is  skin  of  truth  on't,  yes,"  the  Laureate  granted;  "but  'tis  like 
the  mask  of  sense  on  a  madman  or  a  film  of  ice  on  a  skaters'  pond— it 
only  makes  what  lies  beneath  more  sinister." 

Just  then  the  bell  was  rung  for  the  gentlemen  and  ladies  to  come  to 
supper. 


[  238  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"Tis  our  goose  that's  cooked/7  Ebenezer  said  gloomily.  "You'll  see 
this  hour  Miss  Robotham  marked  your  ignorance/' 

"Haply  so/7  said  Bertrand  with  his  smile,  "but  I'd  stake  your  last  farthing 
she  thinks  I'm  a  bloody  Solomon.  We'll  know  soon  enough  who's  right." 

It  was,  in  fact,  closer  to  four  hours  before  the  Laureate  was  able  to  speak 
privately  with  his  man  again,  for  long  after  the  servants  had  themselves 
finished  eating,  the  fine  folk  lingered  at  cards  and  brandy  in  the  main 
cabin.  Their  very  merriment,  of  course—the  sounds  of  which  Ebenezer 
heard  clearly  where  he  stood  by  the  foremast,  brooding  on  the  moonlit 
ocean—seemed  to  indicate  that  nothing  was  seriously  amiss;  nevertheless 
his  exasperation  was  tempered  by  relief  when  finally  he  saw  Bertrand  emerge 
on  the  quarter-deck  with  Captain  Meech  himself,  still  laughing  at  some 
private  joke,  and  fire  up  his  pipe  at  the  smoking-lamp.  The  poet  felt  a 
pang  of  envy:  he  was  not  pleased  with  the  progress  of  events,  especially 
his  servant's  insolent  assurance.  Yet  it  was  not  Bertrand's  manner  alone 
that  disturbed  him;  the  truth  was,  he  found  the  man's  cynical  argument 
as  attractive  as  his  own  idealistic  reply  and  was  at  bottom  satisfied  with 
neither.  For  that  reason,  when  he  asked  what  had  been  said  at  supper  con- 
cerning the  literary  wager  of  the  afternoon,  he  was,  if  saddened,  not  sur- 
prised by  the  report. 

"  Twas  the  talk  of  the  table,  right  enough,  sir."  Bertrand  puffed  and 
frowned  at  his  pipe.  "The  Robotham  wench  told  what  I'd  said  and  how 
ye'd  glossed  it,  word  for  word.  To  speak  plainly,  sir,  the  Colonel,  her 
father,  then  asked  me  why  I  abided  so  brash  a  servant,  if  ye'll  pardon  me, 
as  presumes  to  speak  fofs  master.  The  rest  took  up  the  cry,  and  the  young 
piece  said  at  last,  one  could  know  me  for  a  poet  by  the  look  of  me,  and 
yourself  for  a  byo- .  .  .  beo- .  .  .  something  or  other." 

"Boeotian"  the  Laureate  said  glumly. 

"Aye.  Twas  another  of  her  smutty  words.7' 

Ebenezer  then  inquired,  not  enthusiastically,  what  answer  his  man  had 
made. 

"What  could  I  say,  to  end  their  gossip?  I  told  7em  flat  that  naught  matters 
in  a  secretary  save  his  penmanship.  The  Captain  then  summoned  up  old 
strumpet  Fortune  again,  that  seems  their  favorite  bawd:  he  knew  the  pas- 
sage through,  he  said,  but  had  forgot  just  when  'twas  spoke  in  some  play 
or  other  he  named." 

"Ah."  Ebenezer  closed  his  eyes  almost  hopefully.  "Then  'tis  over  and 
done  with  us,  after  all." 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [239] 

"How's  that,  sir?  I  didn't  bat  an  eyelash,  thankee,  but  declared  'twas 
spoke  on  shipboard  an  hour  past  noon,  when  the  poet  lost  his  last  quid 
on  a  short  day's  run."  He  pulled  again  on  his  pipe  and  spat  with  satisfaction 
at  the  rolling  ocean.  "No  more  was  said  oft  after  that." 


13:  THE  LAUREATE,  AWASH  IN  A  SEA  OF  DIFFICULTIES, 
RESOLVES  TO  BE  LAUREATE,  NOT  BEFORE  INDITING 
FINAL  SEA-COUPLETS 


AFTER   THE    FOREGOING    CONVERSATIONS    WITH    BERTRAND,    EBENEZER'S 

dissatisfaction  with  his  position  was  no  longer  confined  to  mealtimes;  rather, 
he  took  to  a  general  brooding  and  spiritual  malaise.  He  could  write  no 
verse:  even  the  sight  of  a  school  of  great  whales,  which  in  happier  times 
would  have  set  his  fancy  spinning,  now  called  forth  not  a  single  rhyme. 
At  best  he  had  got  on  indifferently  with  his  messmates;  now  they  sensed 
his  distaste,  and  resentment  added  malice  to  the  jokes  they  made  at  his 
expense.  When,  therefore,  after  perhaps  a  week  of  this  solitary  discontent, 
Bertrand  confided  to  him  with  a  happy  leer  that  Lucy  Robotham  was  about 
to  become  the  Maryland  Laureate's  mistress,  his  reaction  to  the  news  was 
anything  but  hospitable. 

"You  lay  a  finger  on  her/'  he  threatened,  "and  you'll  finish  your  crossing 
in  leg  irons." 

"Ah,  well,  'tis  a  little  late  for  that  advice,  sir;  the  quail  is  bagged  and 
plucked,  and  wants  but  basting  on  the  spit." 

"No,  I  sayl"  Ebenezer  insisted,  as  much  impatient  as  appalled.  "Why 
must  I  say  it  twice?  Your  gambling  runs  counter  to  my  better  judgment, 
but  fornication— 'tis  counter  to  my  very  essence!" 

Bertrand  was  altogether  unruffled  by  his  master's  ire.  "Not  in  the  least," 
he  said.  "A  poet  without  a  mistress  is  a  judge  without  a  wig:  'tis  the 
badge  of  his  office,  and  the  Laureate  should  keep  a  staff  of  'em.  My  sole 
concern  is  to  play  the  poet  well,  sir." 

Ebenezer  remained  unpersuaded.  "  'Tis  an  overnice  concern  that  makes 
a  whore  of  the  Colonel's  daughter!" 

Here  Bertrand  protested  that  in  fact  his  interest  in  Lucy  Robotham  was 
largely  dispassionate:  Colonel  Robotham,  he  had  learned,  was  one  of 
the  original  conspirators  with  John  Coode  who  had  overthrown  Lord 


[  240  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

Baltimore's  government  in  1689,  and,  for  all  he  was  sailing  presently  under 
Governor  Nicholson's  protection,  he  might  well  be  still  in  secret  league 
with  the  insurrectionists.  "  Twould  not  surprise  me/'  'he  declared,  "if  old 
Robotham's  using  the  girl  for  bait.  Why  else  would  he  watch  us  carry  on 
so  without  a  word?  Aye,  by  Heav'n,  I'll  hoist  him  with  his  own  petard!" 

In  the  face  of  this  new  information  and  his  valet's  apparent  talent  for 
intrigue,  Ebenezer's  resolve  began  to  weaken:  his  indignation  changed  to 
petulance.  "You've  a  Sophist's  gift  for  painting  vice  in  virtue's  color,"  he 
said.  "  Tis  clear  thou'rt  out  to  make  the  most  of  my  name  and  office." 

"Then  I  have  your  leave,  sir?" 

"I  wonder  you  even  trouble  to  ask  it  these  days." 

"Ah,  thankee,  sir!"  Bertrand's  voice  showed  obvious  relief.  "Thou'rt  a 
gentleman  to  the  marrow  and  have  twice  the  understanding  of  any  wight 
on  the  boat!  I  knew  ye  for  a  fine  soul  the  first  I  e'er  laid  eyes  on  you,  when 
Master  Andrew  sent  me  to  look  to  your  welfare  in  London.  In  every 
thing " 

"Enough;  you  sicken  me,"  the  poet  said.  "What  is't  thou'rt  after  now, 
for  God's  sake?  I  know  this  flattery  will  cost  me  dear." 

"Patience,  I  pray  ye,  sir,"  Bertrand  pleaded  in  a  tone  quite  other  than 
that  of  his  earlier  conversations;  he  was  for  the  nonce  entirely  the  valet 
again.  After  reaffirming  at  length  his  faith  in  Ebenezer's  understanding 
and  their  mutual  interest  in  preserving  their  disguise,  and  asserting  as  well 
that  they  were  of  one  mind  as  regarded  the  importance  of  gentlemanly 
wagering  to  that  disguise,  he  confessed  that  he  needed  additional  subsidiz- 
ing to  maintain  appearances,  and  this  at  once. 

"Dear  God!"  the  Laureate  cried.  "You've  not  lost  twenty  pounds  so 
soon!" 

Bertrand  nodded  confirmation  and  explained  that  he'd  wagered  heavily 
in  side  bets  on  the  past  day's  run  in  order  to  recoup  his  former  losses,  but 
that  despite  his  most  careful  calculations  he'd  lost  by  a  paltry  mile  or  so 
to  Miss  Robotham,  who  he  suspected  had  access  to  private  information 
from  the  Captain.  "  'Tis  but  another  case  of  influence  over  merit,"  he  con- 
cluded with  a  philosophic  sigh. 

"Half  my  savings!  And  you've  gall  enough  to  ask  for  the  rest  to  throw 
after  it!" 

"Far  from  it,  sir,"  Bertrand  declared.  "On  the  contrary,  I  mean  not  only 
to  win  your  money  and  mine  again,  but  to  pay  it  back  fivefold.  'Tis  for 
this  as  much  as  anything  I  need  the  Robotham  wench/'  The  Poseidon, 
he  said,  was  near  the  end  of  her  second  week  of  southwestering,  and  the 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  241  ] 

wise  money  placed  the  Azores  only  two  or  three  days  distant.  So  likely  was 
this  landfall,  in  fact,  that  the  bet-covering  parson  Mr.  Tubman  demanded  a 
pound  for  every  shilling  on  those  two  dates,  whereas  any  date  before  or 
afterwards  fetched  most  lucrative  odds.  Bertrand's  plan,  then,  was  to 
make  such  a  conquest  of  Miss  Robotham  that  she  would  turn  to  his  ac- 
count all  her  influence  with  Captain  Meech:  if  his  private  estimate  of  the 
date  of  landfall  was  other  than  the  prevailing  opinion,  Bertrand  would 
place  all  his  money  on  and  around  the  new  date;  if  the  Captain's  guess 
concurred  with  that  of  the  passengers,  Miss  Robotham  would  employ  every 
art  and  wile  to  induce  him  to  sail  more  slowly  and  raise  the  islands  on 
some  later  date.  Either  way,  he  assured  Ebenezer,  the  prospect  of  enrich- 
ing themselves  was  so  certain  that  it  could  scarce  be  called  a  wager  at  all. 

"Marry,  you  give  me  little  choice!"  Ebenezer  said  bitterly  when  his  man 
had  finished.  "First  you  make  it  seem  not  foolish  to  take  the  girl,  then  you 
make  it  downright  prudent,  and  now  you  make  it  necessary,  albeit  you 
know  as  well  as  I  at  bottom  'tis  naught  but  prurience  and  luxury.  Take 
the  wench,  and  my  money  as  well!  Make  me  a  name  for  a  gambling 
whoremonger  and  have  done  with't!" 

Having  thus  given  vent  to  his  feelings,  he  fetched  out  his  last  twenty 
pounds  from  the  trunk  and  with  great  misgivings  tendered  the  sum  to 
Bertrand,  appealing  a  final  time  to  the  man's  discretion.  The  servant 
thanked  him  as  one  gentleman  might  thank  another  for  a  trifling  loan  and 
went  to  setk  out  Lucy  Robotham. 

Following  this  transaction  the  poet's  melancholia  grew  almost  feverish. 
All  day  he  languished  in  his  berth  or  slouched  ungracefully  at  the  rail  to 
stare  at  the  ocean;  Bertrand's  announcement,  delivered  next  morning  with 
a  roll  of  the  eyes,  that  the  seduction  of  Miss  Robotham  was  an  accom- 
plished fact,  elicited  only  a  sigh  and  a  shake  of  his  master's  head;  and 
when  in  an  attempt  at  cheerfulness  the  valet  subsequently  declared  him- 
self ready  to  have  his  way  with  strumpet  Fortune,  the  Laureate's  listless 
reply  was  "Who  trafficks  with  strumpets  hath  a  taste  for  the  pox/' 

He  was,  as  he  himself  recognized  without  emotion,  very  near  a  state 
like  that  from  which  he'd  been  saved  once  by  Burlingame  and  again,  un- 
intentionally, by  John  McEvoy.  What  saved  him  this  time  was  an  event 
actually  in  keeping  with  his  mood:  on  the  first  of  the  two  "wise  money" 
days  the  fleet  encountered  its  first  really  severe  weather.  The  wind  swung 
round  from  north  to  southwest,  increased  its  velocity,  and  brought  with  it 
a  settled  storm  of  five  days'  duration.  The  Poseidon  pitched,  yawed,  and 
rolled  in  the  heavy  seas;  passengers  were  confined  below  decks  most  of  the 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

day.  The  smell  of  agitated  bilge  water  permeated  the  cabins,  and  even 
the  sailors  grew  seasick.  Ebenezer  fell  so  ill  that  for  days  he  could  scarcely 
eat  at  the  servants'  mess;  he  left  his  berth  only  when  nature  summoned 
him  either  to  the  ship's  rail  or  to  the  chamberpot.  Yet,  though  he  voiced 
his  misery  along  with  the  others,  he  had  not,  like  them,  any  fervent  wish 
for  calm:  to  precipitate  a  cataclysm  is  one  thing,  and  requires  resolution 
at  the  least;  but  to  surrender  to  and  embrace  an  already  existing  cataclysm 
wants  no  more  than  despair. 

He  did  not  see  Bertrand  again  until  late  in  the  fifth  and  final  day  of 
the  storm,  which  was  also  the  most  severe.  All  through  the  lightless  day 
the  Posiedon  had  shuddered  along  under  reefed  topsails,  the  wind  having 
shifted  to  the  northeast,  and  at  evening  the  gale  increased.  Ebenezer  was 
on  the  quarter-deck,  in  his  innocence  heaving  over  the  windward  rail  and 
in  his  illness  oblivious  to  the  unsavory  results.  Here  he  was  joined  by  his 
valet,  as  usual  dressed  in  his  master's  clothes,  who  had  come  on  deck  for 
the  same  purpose  and  who  set  about  the  work  with  similar  untidiness.  For 
awhile  they  labored  elbow  to  elbow  in  the  growing  dark;  presently  Ebenezer 
managed  to  ask,  "What  odds  doth  the  Reverend  Tubman  give  on  living 
through  this  night?  I'd  make  no  bets  on't." 

At  this  Bertrand  fell  to  a  perfect  fit  of  retching.  "Better  for  all  if  the 
bloody  boat  goes  under!"  he  replied  at  last.  "  Tis  not  a  fart  to  me  if  I 
live,  or  die." 

"Is  this  the  Laureate  I  hear?"  Ebenezer  regarded  his  man's  irifsery  with 
satisfaction. 

"Don't  speak  the  word!7'  Bertrand  moaned  and  buried  his  face  in  his 
hands.  "God  curse  the  day  I  e'er  left  London!" 

At  every  new  complaint,  Ebenezer's  stomach  grew  easier.  "But  how  is 
this?"  he  asked  sarcastically.  "You'd  rather  be  a  gelded  servingman  in  Lon- 
don than  a  gentleman  poet  with  a  mistress  and  a  fortune?  I  cannot  fathom 
it!" 

"Would  God  Ralph  Birdsall  had  untooled  me!"  Bertrand  cried.  "Man's 
cod's  a  wretched  handle  that  woman  leads  him  'round  with.  Oh,  the  whore! 
The  treacherous,,  lying  whore!" 

Now  the  poet's  satisfaction  turned  to  real  delight.  "Aha,  so  the  cock 
must  4crow  Cuckoo!  By  Heav'n,  the  wench  doth  well  to  horn  you,  that 
make  such  sport  of  horning'others!" 

"Nay,  God,  ye  must  not  praise  the  slut!" 

"Not  praise  her?  She  hath  my  praise  and  my  endorsement;  she  hath  my 
blessing " 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  243  ] 

"She  hath  your  money  too,"  said  Bertrand,  "all  forty  pound  of  it."  And 
seeing  his  master  too  thunderstruck  to  speak,  he  told  the  tale  of  his  decep- 
tion. The  Robotham  girl,  he  said,  had  sworn  her  love  for  him,  and  on  the 
strength  of  it  had  six  days  ago,  by  her  own  tearful  account,  mortgaged  her 
honor  to  the  extent  of  permitting  Captain  Meech  certain  liberties  with  her 
person,  in  return  wherefor  she  was  able  to  advise  Bertrand  to  put  his  money 
on  a  date  several  days  later  than  the  favored  ones:  she  had  it  straight  from 
the  Captain  that,  though  Flores  was  indeed  but  one  day  off,  a  storm  was 
brewing  on  the  south  horizon  that  could  set  them  back  a  hundred  miles 
with  ease.  At  the  same  time  she  cautioned  him  not  to  disclose  his  wager 
but  to  give  out  that  he  too  was  betting  on  the  popular  dates;  she  would 
see  to  it,  she  vowed,  that  the  bookmaking  minister  held  his  tongue— True 
love  recks  not  the  cost!  Finally,  should  the  Poseidon  not  raise  Flores  on 
the  proper  day,  she  had  a  maid  with  whom  the  lookout  on  the  larboard 
watch  had  fallen  quite  in  love  and  for  whose  favors  he  would  swear  to 
raising  the  jasper  coasts  of  Heaven. 

Thus  assured,  Bertrand  had  put  his  money  at  fifteen  to  one  on  the  day 
to  follow  this  present  day— but  alas,  as  he  saw  too  clearly  now,  the  wench 
had  worked  a  manifold  deception!  Her  real  lover,  it  appeared,  was  no  other 
soul  than  the  Reverend  Tubman  himself,  for  the  sake  of  whose  solvency 
she  had  led  every  poor  fool  in  the  group  to  think  her  his  secret  mistress 
and  bet  on  the  selfsame  date.  Then  when  the  storm  arrived  on  schedule, 
how  they  all  had  cursed  and  bemoaned  their  losses,  each  laughing  up  his 
sleeve  at  his  advantage  over  the  rest!  But  now,  on  the  eve  of  their 
triumph;  on  this  very  day  of  our  Lord  which  might  well  be  their  last;  in 
short,  one  hour  ago,  the  larboard  lookout  had  sworn  to  sighting  the  moun- 
tains of  Corvo  from  his  perch  in  the  maintop,  and  though  no  other  eye 
save  his  had  seen  them,  Captain  Meech  had  made  the  landfall  official. 

As  though  to  confirm  the  valet's  story,  Captain  Meech  just  then  ap- 
peared on  the  poop  and  ordered  the  ship  hove  to  under  reefed  fore-topsail 
—a  measure  that  the  gale  alone  made  prudent,  whether  Corvo  lay  to  lee- 
ward or  not.  Indeed,  the  mate's  command  to  strike  the  main  and  mizzen 
topsails  was  behindhand,  for  while  the  men  were  still  in  the  ratlines 
a  gust  split  all  three  sails  and  sprang  the  mizzenmast  as  well.  The  foresail 
itself  was  raised  instead,  double-reefed,  to  keep  the  ship  from  broaching 
to  until  a  new  fore-topsail  could  be  bent  to  its  yard;  then  the  crew  hurried 
to  clear  the  wildly  flapping  remnants  of  the  mizzen  topsail— and  none 
too  soon,  for  at  the  next  strong  gust  on  the  weakened  spar  a  mizzen  shroud 
parted  with  the  crack  of  a  pistol  shot. 


[244]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTO& 

It  was  at  this  least  fortunate  of  moments  that  Ebenezer,  sickened  anew 
by  the  tidings  of  his  ruin,  leaned  out  again  over  the  rail:  the  fiddle-tight 
shroud  lashed  back  and  smacked  him  on  the  transom,  and  he  was  horrified 
to  find  himself,  for  an  instant,  actually  in  the  sea  beside  the  ship!  No 
one  saw  him  go  by  the  board;  -the  officers  and  crew  had  their  hands  full, 
and  Bertrand,  unable  to  look  his  master  in  the  eye  during  the  confession, 
still  cowered  at  the  rail  with  his  face  in  his  arms.  He  could  not  shout  for 
coughing  up  sea-water,  but  nothing  could  have  been  done  to  save  him 
even  in  the  unlikely  event  that  anyone  heard  his  cries.  In  short,  it  would 
have  been  all  over  with  him  then  and  there  had  not  the  same  wind  that 
formerly  returned  his  heavings  to  him  now  blown  the  top  off  the  next 
great  wave:  crest,  spray,  and  senseless  poet  tumbled  back  aboard,  along 
with  numerous  tons  of  green  Atlantic  Ocean,  and  for  better  or  worse  the 
Laureate  was  safe. 

However,  he  did  not  regain  his  consciousness  at  once.  For  what  could 
to  him  have  been  as  well  an  hour  or  a  year  he  languished  in  a  species  of 
euphoria,  oblivious  to  his  surroundings  and  to  the  passage  of  time,  even 
to  the  fact  that  he  was  safe.  It  was  a  dizzy,  dreamlike  state,  for  the  most 
part  by  no  means  unpleasant,  though  interrupted  now  and  then  by  short 
periods  of  uncertain  straggling  accompanied  by  vague  pain.  Sometimes  he 
dreatned— not  nightmares  at  all  but  oddly  tranquil  visions.  Two  recurred 
with  soine  frequency:  the  first  and  most  mysterious  was  of  twin  alabaster 
mountain  cones,  tall  and  smoothly  polished;  old  men  were  seated  on  the 
peaks,  and  around  the  bases  surged  a  monstrous  activity  the  nature  of  which 
he  could  not  make  out.  The  other  was  a  recapitulation  of  his  accident, 
in  a  strangely  altered  version:  he  was  in  the  water  beside  the  Poseidon, 
but  the  day  was  gloriously  bright  instead  of  stormy;  the  tepid  sea  was  green, 
glass  calm,  and  not  even  wet;  the  ship,  though  every  sail  was  full,  moved 
not  an  inch  away;  not  Bertrand,  but  his  sister  Anna  and  his  friend  Henry 
Burlingame  watched  him  from  the  quarter-deck,  smiling  and  waving,  and 
instead  of  terror  it  was  ecstasy  that  filled  the  poet's  breast! 

When  at  length  he  came  fully  to  his  senses,  the  substance  of  these  dreams 
defied  recall,  but  their  tranquility  came  with  him  to  the  waking  world.  He 
lay  peacefully  for  a  long  time  with  his  eyes  open,  admitting  reality  a  fact 
at  a  time  into  his  consciousness.  To  begin  with,  he  was  alive— a  certain 
dizziness,  some  weakness  of  the  stomach,  and  sharp  pains  in  his  buttocks 
vouched  for  that,  though  he  felt  them  with  as  much  detachment  as  if 
the  ailing  members  were  not  his.  He  remembered  the  accident  without 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  245  ] 

alarm,  but  knew  neither  how  it  had  occurred  nor  what  had  saved  him. 
Even  the  memory  that  Bertrand  had  lost  all  his  money,  which  followed 
immediately  after,  failed  to  ruffle  his  serenity.  Gradually  he  understood 
that  he  was  lying  in  a  hammock  in  the  fo'c'sle:  he  knew  the  look  of  the 
place  from  his  earlier  confinement  there.  The  room  was  shadowy  and  full 
of  the  smells  of  lamp-oil  and  tobacco-smoke;  he  heard  occasional  short 
laughs  and  muttered  curses,  and  the  slap  of  playing-cards;  somewhere  near 
at  hand  a  sleeper  snored.  It  was  night,  then.  Last  of  all  he  realized  that 
the  ship  was  riding  steady  as  a  church,  at  just  the  slightest  angle  of  heel: 
the  storm  had  passed,  and  also  the  dangerous  period  of  high  seas  and  no 
wind  that  often  follows  storms  at  sea;  the  Poseidon  was  making  gentle  way. 

Though  he  was  loath  to  leave  that  pleasant  country  where  his  spirit  had 
lately  traveled,  he  presently  swung  his  legs  out  of  the  hammock  and  sat 
up.  In  other  hammocks  all  around  him  men  were  sleeping,  and  four  sailors 
played  at  cards  on  a  table  near  the  center  of  the  room. 

"Marry!"  one  of  them  cried.  "There  stirs  our  sleeping  beauty!"  The  rest 
turned  round  with  various  smiles  to  look. 

"Good  evening/'  Ebenezer  said.  His  voice  was  weak,  and  when  he  stood 
erect  his  legs  gave  way,  and  the  sharp  pain  in  his  buttocks  recommenced. 
He  grasped  a  bulkhead  for  support. 

"What  is't,  lad?"  a  smiling  jack  inquired.  "Got  a  gimp?" 

At  this  the  party  laughed  aloud,  and  though  the  point  of  the  joke  es- 
caped him,  Ebenezer  smiled  as  well:  the  strange  serenity  he'd  waked  with 
made  it  of  no  importance  that  their  laughter  was  doubtless  at  his  expense. 

"Belike  I  took  a  fall,"  he  said  politely.  "I  hurt  a  little  here  and  there." 

"  Twere  a  nine-day  wonder  if  ye  didn't!"  an  old  fellow  cackled,  and 
Ebenezer  recognized  that  same  Ned  who'd  first  delivered  him  into  Ber- 
trand's  presence  and  had  pinched  him  so  cruelly  into  the  bargain.  The 
others  laughed  again,  but  bade  their  shipmate  be  silent. 

A  third  sailor,  somewhat  less  uncouth  appearing  than  the  rest,  made 
haste  to  say,  "What  Ned  means  is,  small  wonder  ye've  an  ache  or  two 
where  the  mizzen  shroud  struck  ye."  He  indicated  a  small  flask  near  at 
hand.  "Come  have  a  dram  to  steady  yourself  while  the  mate's  on  deck." 

"I  thank  you,"  Ebenezer  said,  and  when  he  had  done  shivering  from 
the  rum  he  mildly  asked,  "How  is't  I'm  here?" 

"We  found  ye  senseless  on  the  main  deck  in  the  storm/'  the  sailor  said. 
"Ye'd  near  washed  through  the  scuppers." 

"Chips  yonder  used  your  berth  for  planking,"  old  Ned  added  gleefully, 


[  246  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

and  indicated  the  sailor  who  had  spoken  first—a  lean,  sandy  fellow  in  his 
forties. 

"No  offense  intended,  mind,"  said  the  carpenter,  playing  another  card. 
"We  was  taking  water  aft,  and  all  my  planks  was  washed  by  the  board. 
I  asked  in  the  'tween  decks  which  berth  to  use,  and  yours  was  the  one  they 
showed  me/' 

"Ah  well,  Fll  not  miss  their  company,  I  think."  On  further  questioning 
Ebenezer  learned  that  his  unconsciousness  had  lasted  three  days  and 
nights,  during  which  time  he'd  had  no  food  at  all.  He  was  ravenously  hun- 
gry; the  cook,  rather  expecting  him  to  die,  had  left  no  rations  for  him, 
but  the  crewmen  readily  shared  their  bread  and  cheese.  They  showed  con- 
siderable curiosity  about  his  three-day  coma:  in  particular,  had  he  felt  not 
anything  at  all?  His  assurance  that  he  had  not  seemed  greatly  to  amuse  them. 

"Out  on't,  then!"  the  carpenter  declared.  "Tis  over  and  done  with, 
mate,  and  if  aught's  amiss,  bear  in  mind  we  thought  ye  a  dying  man." 

"Amiss?"  Ebenezer  did  not  understand.  By  this  time  the  rum  had 
warmed  his  every  member,  and  the  edge  was  off  his  hunger.  In  the  lantern 
light  the  fo'c'sle  looked  quite  cozy.  He  had  not  lately  met  with  such  hos- 
pitality as  had  been  shown  him  by  these  uncouth  sailors,  who  doubtless 
knew  not  even  his  pseudonym,  to  say  nothing  of  his  real  identity.  "If  aught's 
amiss,"  he  asserted  warmly,  "  'tis  that  in  my  muddled  state  I've  made  no 
proper  thanks  for  all  your  kindness.  Would  God  I'd  pence  to  pay  you  for't, 
though  I  know  'twas  natural  goodness  moved  you  and  not  the  landsman's 
grubby  wish  for  gold.  But  I'm  a  pauper." 

"Think  never  a  fart  oft,"  one  of  the  men  replied.  "'Tis  your  master's 
lookout.  Drink  up,  now." 

The  Laureate  smiled  at  their  innocence  and  took  another  drink.  Should 
he  tell  them  who  in  fact  they  were  so  kind  to?  No,  he  decided  affectionately; 
let  virtue  be  its  own  reward.  He  called  to  mind  tales  of  kings  in  humble 
dress,  going  forth  among  their  subjects;  of  Christ  himself,  who  sometimes 
traveled  incognito.  Doubtless  they  would  one  day  learn  the  truth,  from 
some  poem  or  other  that  he'd  write:  then  the  adventure  would  become 
a  legend  of  the  fo'c'sles  and  a  telling  anecdote  in  biographies  to  come. 

The  sailors'  cordial  attitude  prevailed  through  the  following  fortnight, 
as  did  the  poet's  remarkable  tranquility.  This  latter,  at  least,  he  came  in- 
creasingly to  understand:  the  second  of  his  euphoric  visions  had  come 
back  to  him,  and  he  saw  in  it,  with  a  quiet  thrill,  a  mystic  affirmation  of 
his  calling,  such  as  those  once  vouchsafed  to  the  saints.  What  was  this 
ship,  after  all,  but  the  Ship  of  Destiriy,  from  which  in  retribution  for  his 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  247  ] 

doubts  he  had  been  cast?  What  was  the  ocean  but  a  Font  of  Rededication, 
a  moral  bath  to  cleanse  him  of  despair  and  restore  him  to  the  Ship?  The 
message  was  unequivocal  even  without  the  additional,  almost  frightening 
miracle  that  he  had  unwittingly  predicted  it!  Hence  Burlingame's  presence 
on  the  dream  ship,  for  he  it  was,  in  the  King  o'  the  Seas  (that  is  to  say, 
Poseidonl)  who  had  scoffed  at  the  third  line  of  Ebenezefs  quatrain 

"Let  Ocean  roar  his  damn'dest  Gde: 
Our  Planks  shan't  leak;  our  Masts  shan't  fail; 
With  great  Poseidon  by  our  Side 
He  seemeth  neither  wild  nor  wide. 

—which,  he  claimed,  placed  the  poet  in  the  ocean.  Ebenezer  thought  warmly 
of  his  friend  and  teacher,  who  for  all  he  knew  might  long  since  have  been 
found  out  by  Slye  and  Scurry  and  sent  to  a  watery  grave.  Henry  had  been 
skeptical  of  the  laureateship,  no  doubt  about  it 
"Would  God  I  had  him  here,  to  tell  this  wonder  to!" 
Since  the  momentous  sighting  of  Corvo  in  the  Azores,  the  Poseidon 
had  been  sailing  a  due  westerly  course  along  the  thirty-seventh  parallel  of 
latitude,  which  if  all  went  well  would  lead  her  straight  to  the  Virginia  Capes. 
The  lengthy  storm  had  scattered  the  fleet  to  the  four  winds,  so  that  not 
another  sail  was  visible  on  the  horizon;  but  Captain  Meech  looked  to 
overhaul  the  flagship  any  day^,  which  he  reckoned  to  be  ahead  of  them. 
Although  some  time  had  been  lost  in  making  repairs,  when  Chips  com- 
pleted a  masterful  scarfing  of  the  damaged  spar  the  Poseidon  bowled  along 
for  days  on  end  in  a  whole-sail  breeze.  They  were  five  weeks  out  of  Plym- 
outh; May  was  upon  them,  and  landfall  again  on  everybody's  lips. 

During  this  period  Ebenezer  seldom  left  the  foVsle:  for  one  thing,  it 
took  him  a  while  to  regain  his  strength;  for  another,  he  had  no  desire  to 
see  his  former  messmates  again,  and  anyway  his  musings  kept  him  pleasantly 
occupied.  Bertrand,  of  course,  he  could  not  avoid  some  contact  with,  but 
their  meetings  were  brief  and  uncommunicative— the  valet  was  uncertain 
of  his  position,  and  Ebenezer,  besides  enjoying  the  man's  discomfort,  had 
nothing  to  say  to  him.  Though  he  could  entertain  no  more  illusions  about 
the  ship's  magnificence,  his  admiration  for  the  sailors  had  increased  tenfold. 
His  despair  was  gone  completely:  with  tranquil  joy  he  watched  the  dolphins 
roll  along  the  freeboard  and  in  the  wake  and,  caught  up  in  the  general 
anticipation,  he  sharpened  his  quills,  got  out  the  volumes  of  Milton  and 
Samuel  Butler  that  he  used  as  references,  and  hatched  the  following  cou- 
plets to  describe  the  great  event  that  lay  ahead:  his  first  glimpse  of  Mary- 
land. 


[248]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

Belike  Ulysses,  wncTring  West 

From  Ilions  Sack,  in  Tatters  drest, 

And  weary' d  of  his  ten-year  Roam 

O'er  wat'ry  Wilds  of  desart  Foam. 

Beholding  Ithaca  at  last 

And  seeing  all  his  Hardship  past, 

Did  swear  'twas  Heav'ns  own  Shore  he'd  rais'd, 

So  lovely  seem'd  it  as  he  gaz'd, 

Despite  its  Rocks  and  Fearsome  Coast. 

How  Heav'nlier,  then,  this  Land  I  boast, 

Whose  golden  Sands  and  verdant  Trees 

And  Harbours  snug,  designed  to  ease 

The  Sailors  Burthen,  greet  the  Eye 

With  naught  save  Loveliness!  Nay,  try 

As  best  it  might,  no  Poets  Song, 

Be't  e'er  so  sweet  or  ne'er  so  long, 

Could  tell  the  Whole  of  MARYLANDS  Charms, 

When  from  the  Oceans  boundless  Harms 

The  Travrler  comes  unscath'd  at  last, 

And  from  his  Vessels  loftiest  mast 

He  first  beholds  her  Beautyl 

To  which,  at  the  foot  of  the  ledger-sheet,  he  duly  appended  E.G.,  G^*, 
Pt  &  V  of  Md,  and  regarded  the  whole  with  a  satisfaction  such  as  he 
had  not  felt  since  the  night  of  Joan  Toast's  fateful  visit,  when  he  had  com- 
posed his  hymn  to  virginity;  in  particular  he  was  pleased  by  the  several 
enjambed  lines  and  the  sentences  ending  in  the  middle  of  a  couplet  or 
even  in  the  middle  of  a  line,  which  features  he  thought  lent  a  commendable 
tightness  of  structure  to  the  entire  poem,  and  by  the  lengthy  periods  them- 
selves, whose  syntactical  arrangement  precluded  the  sort  of  line-at-a-time 
composition  characteristic  of  amateurs.  He  was  impatient  to  have  done 
with  disguises  and  assume  his  true  position  in  the  Province;  his  physical 
condition  was  better  than  it  had  been  before  the  accident,  and  his  spirits 
could  scarcely  have  been  improved  upon.  After  considering  the  merits  of 
several  plans,  he  resolved  at  length  to  end  the  fraud  by  announcing  his 
identity  and  reciting  these  latest  verses  as  soon  as  the  Poseidon  made  a  land- 
fall: clearly  there  was  no  plot  against  the  Laureate  aboard  ship,  and  the 
passengers  deserved  to  know  the  truth  about  him  and  Bertrand 

It  was  not  his  fortune,  however,  to  carry  out  this  pleasant  scheme.  With 
their  journey's  end  so  near  at  hand,  passengers  and  crew  alike  grew  daily 
more  festive,  and  though  the  sailors  were  officially  forbidden  to  drink  aboard 
ship,  the  fo'c'sle  no  less  than  the  main  cabin  became  the  scene  of  nightly 
revels.  The  crew's  hospitality  to  Ebenezer  waxed  proportionately:  he  had 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  249  1 

no  money  to  invest  in  their  card-games,  but  he  readily  shared  their  rum 
and  cordiality. 

One  evening  when  all  had  drunk  a  fair  amount  of  liquor,  old  Ned,  whose 
amiable  deportment  had  most  surprised  the  Laureate,  descended  the  com- 
panionway  and  announced  to  the  company  at  large  that  he  had  just  re- 
turned from  an  interview  with  Mister  Ebenezer  Cooke  on  the  main  deck. 
Ebenezer's  ears  pricked  up  and  his  cheeks  burned,  for  the  man's  tone  im- 
plied that  he  had  been  sent  as  some  kind  of  spokesman  for  the  group.  The 
rest  avoided  looking  at  him. 

"I  told  'Squire  Cooke  how  fairly  we'd  looked  to's  man,"  Ned  continued, 
smiling  unpleasantly  at  the  poet.  "I  told  him  we'd  fetched  him  from  death's 
door  and  nursed  him  back  to  health  again,  and  shared  our  bed  and  board 
without  complaint.  Then  I  asked  him  if't  wouldn't  please  him  to  give 
us  somewhat  for  our  pains,  seeing  we're  coming  on  to  landfall " 

"What  did  he  say?"  a  man  asked.  Ebenezer's  features  boiled  about:  he 
was  disappointed  to  learn  that  their  generosity  had  been  at  least  partly 
venal,  but  at  the  same  time  he  recognized  his  obligation  to  them  and  the 
legitimacy  of  their  claim. 

Ned  leered  at  him.  'The  lying  wretch  pled  povertyl  Says  he  lost  his  last 
farthing  when  we  sighted  Corvoi" 

"  Tis  all  too  true,"  Ebenezer  declared,  in  the  face  of  a  general  protest 
at  Ned's  announcement.  "He  is  a  profligate  fellow  and,  not  content  to 
squander  his  own  money  hath  wagered  mine  as  well,  which  is  why  I  could 
not  join  your  games.  But  I  swear  you  shall  be  paid  for  your  kindness,  since 
you  set  a  price  on't.  Do  but  copy  down  your  names  for  me,  and  I'll  dis- 
patch the  sum  the  day  I  arrive  at  Maiden." 

'Til  wager  ye  will,  and  lose  my  money  tool"  Chips  laughed.  "A  vow 
like  that  is  lightly  sworn!" 

"Prithee  let  me  explain "  Ebenezer  made  up  his  mind  to  reveal  his 

identity  then  and  there. 

"No  explanation  needed,"  said  the  boatswain,  who  in  most  matters  spoke 
for  the  crewmen  on  that  watch.  "When  sailors  nurse  an  ailing  sailor  they 
want  no  thanks,  but  when  they  share  the  fo'c'sle  with  an  ailing  passenger, 
they're  paid  at  the  voyage's  end." 

"  'Tis  the  code  o'  the  sea,"  Ned  affirmed. 

"And  a  fair  one,"  Ebenezer  granted.  "If  you'll  but " 

"Stay,"  the  boatswain  commanded  with  a  smile,  and  brought  forth  a 
sheet  of  paper  from  his  pocket.  "Your  master  pleads  poverty,  and  you  as 
well.  There's  naught  for't  but  ye  must  sign  this  paper." 


[  250  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

Ebenezer  took  the  document  doubtfully  and  read  the  rudely  penned 
words. 

"What  thing  is  this?"  he  cried,  and  looked  up  to  find  all  the  sailors  grin- 
ning at  his  wonder. 

"  Tis  the  code  o'  the  sea,  as  Ned  says/'  the  boatswain  answered.  "Sign 
ye  that  paper  and  thou'rt  a  poor  jack  like  the  rest  of  us,  that  owes  his 
fellows  not  a  fart." 

Indeed,  the  document  proclaimed  that  its  signer  was  a  kind  of  honorary 
member  of  the  Poseidon's  crew  and  shared  the  rights,  privileges,  and  obli- 
gations of  a  common  seaman,  work  and  pay  excepted.  Its  language,  polished 
by  comparison  with  the  penmanship,  suggested  that  the  gesture  was  in 
fact  a  traditional  means  of  coping  with  what  Ebenezer  had  assumed  to 
be  a  novel  predicament,  and  Captain  Meech's  signature  in  one  corner  be- 
spoke official  sanction. 

"Then— you  want  no  payment  after  all?" 

The  boatswain  shook  his  head.  "  'Twould  be  against  the  code  to  think 
oft  from  a  shipmate/' 

"Why,  'tis  an  honor!"  the  poet  laughed,  his  esteem  for  the  men  re- 
doubled. "I'll  sign  my  name  right  gladly!"  And  fetching  out  his  quill  he 
fixed  his  proper  name  and  title  to  the  paper. 

"Ah,  mate,"  said  Chips,  who  watched  behind  his  shoulder,  "what  prank 
is  this  ye  play  us  for  our  kindness?  Sign  thy  own  name,  not  thy  master's!" 

"Is't  you* ve  heard  before  about  the  code?"  Ned  asked  suspiciously. 

"Nay,  gentlemen,  I  mean  no  prank.  'Tis  time  you  knew  the  truth."  He 
proceeded  then  to  tell  the  whole  story  of  his  disguise,  explaining  as  briefly 
as  he  could  what  made  it  necessary.  The  liquor  oiled  his  tongue:  he  spoke 
eloquently  and  at  length,  and  by  way  of  credentials  even  recited  from 
memory  every  couplet  in  his  notebook.  "Do  but  say  the  word,"  he  con- 
cluded. "I'll  fetch  my  valet  hence  to  swear  to't.  He  could  not  quote  a  verse 
from  memory  and  scarce  could  read  'em  off  the  page." 

At  first  openly  incredulous,  the  men  were  clearly  impressed  by  the  time 
the  poet  was  finished.  No  one  suggested  summoning  Bertrand  to  testify. 
Their  chief  reservation,  it  turned  out,  was  the  fact  that  Ebenezer  had 
been  content  with  a  fo'c'sle  hammock  while  his  servant  enjoyed  the  favors 
of  Miss  Lucy  Robotham,  and  the  Laureate  turned  this  quickly  to  account 
by  reminding  them  of  his  hymn  to  virginity:  such  behavior  as  Bertrand's 
was  unthinkable  in  .a  man  to  whom  virginity  was  of  the  essence. 

"  'Sbody!"  the  boatswain  cried.  "Ye  mean  to  say  a  poet  is  like  a  popish 
priest,  that  uses  his  cod  for  naught  but  a  bilge-pump?" 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  2J1  ] 

"I  speak  for  no  poet  save  myself/7  Ebenezer  replied,  and  went  on  to 
explain,  insofar  as  modesty  permitted,  the  distinction  between  ecclesiastical 
celibacy  and  true  virginity.  The  former,  he  declared,  was  no  more  than  a 
discipline,  albeit  a  highly  commendable  one  in  that  it  turned  to  nobler 
work  the  time  and  energy  commonly  spent  on  love-making,  spared  the 
votary  from  dissipating  entanglements  with  mistresses  and  wives,  and  was 
conducive  in  general  to  a  longer  and  more  productive  life;  but  it  was  by 
no  means  so  pure  a  state  as  actual  virginity,  and  in  point  of  fact  implied 
no  necessary  virtue  at  all—the  greatest  lecher  is  celibate  in  later  years,  when 
his  powers  have  fled.  Celibacy,  in  short,  was  a  negative  practice  almost 
always  adopted  either  by  default  or  by  external  authority;  virginity,  on  the 
other  hand,  was  a  positive  metaphysical  state,  the  more  to  be  admired  since 
it  was  self-imposed  and  had  in  itself  neither  instrumental  value  nor,  in  the 
male,  physical  manifestation  of  its  possession  or  loss.  For  him  it  had  not 
even  the  posthumous  instrumentality  of  a  Christian  virtue,  since  his  in- 
terest in  it  was  ontological  and  aesthetic  rather  than  moral.  He  expatiated 
freely,  more  for  his  own  edification  than  that  of  the  crew,  who  regarded 
him  with  awe. 

"Ye  mean  to  sit  there  and  tell  us/'  the  boatswain  asked  soberly  in  the 
middle  of  a  sentence,  "ye  never  caulked  a  fantail  in  your  life?  Ye  never 
turned  the  old  fid  to  part  some  dock-whore's  hemp?" 

"Nor  shall  I  ever/'  the  poet  said  stoutly,  and  to  forestall  further  prykig 
he  returned  the  proclamation  and  proposed  a  drink  to  his  new  position. 
"Think  not  I  count  your  honor  less  as  Laureate,"  he  assured  them.  "Let's 
have  a  dram  on't,  and  ere  the  night's  done  I'll  pay  my  toll  with  something 
more  sweet  than  silver."  Indeed,  he  meant  to  do  them  no  less  an  honor 
than  to  sing  their  praises  for  ever  and  all  in  verse. 

The  sailors  looked  at  each  other. 

"So  be't!"  old  Ned  cackled,  and  the  others  voiced  approval  too.  "Get 
some  rum  in  him,  mates,  'fore  the  next  watch!" 

Ebenezer  was  given  the  bottle  and  bade  to  drink  it  all  himself.  "What's 
this?"  He  laughed  uncertainly.  "A  sort  of  initiation  ceremony?" 

"Nay,  that  comes  after,"  said  Chips.  "The  rum's  to  make  ye  ready." 

Ebenezer  declined  the  preliminaries  with  a  show  of  readiness  for  any 
mock  ordeal.  "Let's  put  by  the  parsley  and  have  at  the  meat,  then;  you'll 
find  me  game  for'tl" 

This  was  the  signal  for  a  general  uproar:  the  poet's  arms  were  pinioned 
from  both  sides;  his  chair  was  snatched  from  under  him  by  one  sailor, 
and  before  he  could  recover  from  his  surprise  another  pressed  his  face  into 


[  252  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

a  pillow  that  lay  in  the  center  of  the  table,  having  magically  appeared  from 
nowhere.  Not  given  by  temperament  to  horseplay,  Ebenezer  squirmed  with 
embarrassment;  furthermore,  both  by  reason  of  his  office  and  from  sim- 
ple fear  of  pain  he  did  not  relish  the  idea  of  ritual  bastinados  on  his  back- 
side, the  administering  of  which  he  assumed  to  be  the  sailors'  object. 

When  to  his  horror  it  grew  clear,  a  moment  later,  that  birching  was  not 
their  intent  at  all,  no  force  on  earth  could  keep  him  silent;  though  his 
head  was  held  as  fast  as  were  his  limbs,  he  gave  a  shriek  that  even  the 
main-top  lookout  heard. 

"Captain  Meech  will  hang  you  for  this!"  he  cried,  when  he  could  muster 
words. 

"Ye  think  he  knows  naught  o'  the  code  o'  the  sea?"  Ebenezer  recognized 
old  Ned's  evil  cackle  behind  him.  "Ye  saw  his  name  on  the  paper,  did  ye 
not?" 

And  as  if  to  confirm  the  hopelessness  of  his  position,  no  sooner  had  he 
recommenced  his  shrieks  than  the  mate  on  deck  thrust  his  head  down  the 
companionway  to  issue  a  cheerful  ultimatum:  "The  Captain  says  belay  the 
hollowing  or  lay  the  wretch  out  with  a  pistol-butt.  He's  bothering  the  ladies." 

His  only  threat  thus  spiked,  Ebenezer  seemed  condemned  to  suffer  the 
initiation  in  its  ruinous  entirety.  But  a  sudden  cry  went  up  on  deck— Eb- 
enezer, half  a-swoon,  paid  no  attention  to  it— and  in  an  instant  every  man 
ran  for  the  companionway,  leaving  the  novice  to  his  own  resorts.  Weak  with 
outrage,  he  sent  a  curse  after  them.  Then  he  made  shift  to  dress  himself  and 
tried  as  best  he  could  to  calm  his  nerves  with  thoughts  of  retribution.  Still 
oblivious  to  the  sound  of  shouts  and  running  feet  above  his  head,  he  pres- 
ently gave  voice  to  a  final  sea-couplet,  the  last  verse  he  was  to  spawn  for 
weeks  to  come: 

"Hell  hath  no  fouler,  filthier  Demon: 
Preserve  me,  LORD,  from  English  Seamen!" 

Now  to  the  general  uproar  on  deck  was  added  the  sound  of  musket  fire 
and  even  the  great  report  of  a  cannon,  though  the  Poseidon  carried  no 
artillery:  whatever  was  happening  could  no  longer  be  ignored.  Ebenezer 
went  to  the  companionway,  but  before  he  could  climb  up  he  was 
met  by  Bertrand,  in  nightgown  and  cap,  who  leaped  below  in  a  single 
bound  and  fell  sprawling  on  the  floor. 

"Master  Ebenezer!"  he  cried  and,  spying  the  poet  by  the  ladderway, 
rose  trembling  to  his  knees.  At  sight  of  the  man's  terror  Ebenezer's  flesh 
tingled. 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  253  ] 

"What  is't,  man?  What  ails  you?" 

"We're  all  dead  men,  sir!"  Bertrand  wailed.  "  Tis  all  up  with  us!  Pirates, 
sir!  Ah,  curse  the  hour  I  played  at  Laureate!  The  devils  are  boarding  us 
this  moment!" 

"Nay!  Thou'rt  drunk!" 

"I  swear't,  sir!  Tis  the  plank  for  all  of  us!"  In  the  late  afternoon,  he 
explained,  the  Poseidon  had  raised  another  sail  to  the  southeast,  which, 
taking  it  for  some  member  of  the  fleet,  Captain  Meech  made  haste  to 
overhaul  before  dark— the  man-o'-war  that  was  to  see  them  safely  through 
pirate  waters  had  been  out  of  sight  since  Corvo,  and  two  ships  together 
were  more  formidable  prey  than  one  alone.  But  it  had  taken  until  just 
awhile  ago  to  overtake  the  stranger,  and  no  sooner  were  they  in  range 
than  a  shot  was  fired  across  their  bow,  and  they  realized  too  late  that  they 
were  trapped.  "Would  Heav'n  I'd  stayed  to  face  Ralph  Birdsall!"  he  la- 
mented in  conclusion.  "Better  my  cod  lost  than  my  whole  life!  What  shall 
we  do?" 

The  Laureate  had  no  better  answer  for  this  than  did  his  valet,  who  still 
crouched  trembling  on  his  knees»  unable  to  stand.  The  shooting  had 
stopped,  but  there  was  even  more  shouting  than  before,  and  Ebenezer 
felt  the  shock  of  another  hull  brushing  the  Poseidon's.  He  climbed  a  little 
way  up  the  ladder— just  enough  to  peer  out 

He  saw  a  chilling  sight.  The  other  vessel  rode  along  the  Poseidon's  star- 
board beam,  made  fast  to  her  victim  with  numerous  grappling  hooks.  It 
was  a  shallop,  schooner-rigged  and  smaller  than  the  Poseidon,  but  owing 
to  its  proximity  and  the  long  weeks  during  which  nothing  had  been  to 
be  seen  but  open  sea  on  every  hand,  it  looked  enormous.  Men  with  pistols 
or  torches  in  one  hand  and  cutlasses  in  the  other,  presumably  pirates,  were 
scrambling  over  the  railings  unopposed,  the  firelight  rendering  them  all 
the  more  fearsome,  and  were  herding  the  Poseidon's  crew  around  the  main- 
mast; it  appeared  that  Captain  Meech  had  deemed  it  unwise  to  resist.  The 
Captain  himself,  together  with  his  fellow  officers,  could  be  seen  under 
separate  guard  farther  aft,  by  the  mizzen,  and  already  the  passengers  were 
being  rousted  out  from  their  berths  onto  the  deck,  most  in  nightclothes 
or  underwear.  The  men  cursed  and  complained;  the  women  swooned, 
shrieked,  or  merely  wept  in  anticipation  of  their  fate.  Over  the  pirates'  fore- 
mast hung  the  gibbous  moon,  its  light  reflecting  whitely  from  the  fluttering 
gaff-topsails;  the  lower  sails,  also  luffing  in  the  cool  night  breeze,  glowed 
orange  in  the  torchlight  and  danced  with  giant,  flickering  shadows.  Eben- 
ezer leaned  full  against  the  ladder  to  keep  from  falling.  To  his  mind 


[  254 1  THE  SOT-W1™  FACTOR 

rushed  all  the  horrors  he'd  read  about  in  Esquemeling:  how  Roche 
Brasiliano  had  used  to  roast  his  prisoners  on  wooden  spits,  or  rub  their 
stripes  with  lemon  juice  and  pepper;  how  L'Ollonais  had  pulled  out  his 
victims'  tongues  with  his  bare  hands  and  chewed  their  hearts;  how  Henry 
Morgan  would  squeeze  a  man's  eyeballs  out  with  a  tourniquet  about  the 
skull,  depend  him  by  the  thumbs  and  great  toes,  or  haul  him  aloft  by  the 
privy  members. 

From  behind  and  below  came  the  sound  of  Bertrand's  lamentations, 

"Now  belay  it,  belay  it!"  one  of  the  pirates  was  commanding,  perhaps 
an  officer.  It  was  not  the  passengers'  miserable  carcasses  they  had  designs 
on,  he  declared,  but  money  and  stores.  If  everyone  behaved  himself  prop- 
erly,, no  harm  would  befall  them  save  the  loss  of  their  valuables,  a  few 
barrels  of  pork  and  peas,  and  three  or  four  seamen,  whom  the  pirates 
needed  to  complement  their  crew;  in  an  hour  they  could  resume  their  voy- 
age. He  then  dispatched  a  contingent  of  pirates  to  accompany  the  male 
passengers  back  to  their  quarters  and  gather  the  loot,  the  women  remaining 
above  as  hostages  to  assure  a  clean  picking;  another  detail  he  ordered  to 
pillage  the  hold;  and  a  third,  consisting  of  three  armed  men,  came  forward 
to  search  the  fo'c'sle  for  additional  seamen. 

"Quickly!"  Ebenezer  cried  to  Bertrand,  jumping  to  the  floor.  "Put  these 
clothes  on  and  give  me  my  nightgown!"  He  commenced  pulling  the  valet's 
clothes  off  himself  as  hastily  as  possible. 

"Why?"  Bertrand  wailed.  "  Tis  all  over  with  us  either  way." 

Ebenezer  had  his  clothes  off  already  and  began  to  yank  at  the  night- 
gown. "We  know  not  what's  in  store  for  us,"  he  said  grimly.  "Belike  'tis 
the  gentlemen  they're  after,  not  the  poor  folk.  At  any  rate  'twere  better 
to  see't  through  honestly:  if  I'm  to  die  I'll  die  as  Eben  Cooke,  not  Bertrand 
Burton!  Off  with  this,  now!"  He  gave  a  final  tug,  and  the  gown  came  off 
over  Bertrand's  head  and  arms.  "I'Christ,  'tis  all  beshit!" 

"For  very  fear,"  the  valet  admitted,  and  scrabbled  after  some  clothes. 

"Avast  there,  laddies!"  came  a  voice  from  the  companionway.  "Lookee 
here,  mates,  'tis  a  floating  Gomorry!" 

Ebenezer,  the  foul  nightdress  half  over  his  head,  and  Bertrand,  still 
naked  on  all  fours,  turned  to  face  three  grinning  pirates,  pistols  and  swords 
in  hand,  on  the  ladder. 

"I  do  despise  to  spoil  your  party,  sailors,"  said  the  leader.  He  was  a  fero- 
cious-looking Moor,  bull-necked,  broken-nosed,  rough-bearded,  and  dark- 
skinned;  a  red  turbanlike  cap  sat  on  his  head,  and  black  hair  bristled  from 
his  open  shirt.  "But  we  want  your  arses  on  deck." 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  255  ] 

"Prithee  don't  mistake  me,  sir/'  Ebenezer  answered,  pulling  the  skirts 
of  his  nightdress  down.  He  drew  himself  up  as  calmly  as  he  could  and 
pointed  with  disdain  to  Bertrand.  "This  fellow  here  may  speak  for  him- 
self, but  I  am  no  sailor:  my  name  is  Ebenezer  Cooke,  and  I  am  Poet 
Laureate  of  His  Majesty's  Province  of  Maryland!" 


14:    THE  LAUREATE  IS  EXPOSED  TO  TWO 
ASSASSINATIONS  OF  CHARACTER,  A  PIRACY,  A  NEAR- 
DEFLOWERING,  A  NEAR-MUTINY,  A  MURDER,  AND  AN 
APPALLING  COLLOQUY  BETWEEN  CAPTAINS  OF  THE 
SEA,  ALL  WITHIN  THE  SPACE  OF  A  FEW  PAGES 


UNIMPRESSED  BY  EBENEZER^S  DECLARATION,  THE  HORRENDOUS  MOOR  AND 

his  two  confederates  hustled  their  prisoners  up  to  the  main  deck,  the  Lau- 
reate clad  only  in  his  unpleasant  nightshirt  and  Bertrand  in  a  pair  of 
breeches  hastily  donned.  The  uproar  had  by  this  time  subsided  to  some  ex- 
tent; though  the  women  and  servants  wepf  and  wailed  on  every  hand,  the 
officers  and  crew  stood  sullenly  in  groups  around  the  mizzen  and  foremasts, 
respectively,  and  the  gentlemen,  who  were  returning  one  by  one  from  the 
main  cabin  under  the  guard  of  their  plunderers,  preserved  a  tight-lipped 
silence.  Thus  far  no  physical  harm  had  been  offered  either  woman  or  man, 
and  the  efficient  looting  of  the  Poseidon  was  nearly  complete:  all  that  re- 
mained of  the  pirates'  stated  objectives,  as  overheard  by  Ebenezer,  was  ta 
finish  the  transfer  of  provisions  and  impress  three  or  four  seamen  into  their 
service. 

For  robbery  Ebenezer  cared  little,  his  valet  having  picked  him  clean 
already;  it  was  the  prospect  of  being  impressed  that  terrified  him,  since  he 
and  Bertrand  had  been  captured  in  the  fo'c'sle  and  neither  was  wearing 
the  clothes  of  a  gentleman.  His  fears  redoubled  when  their  captors  led 
them  toward  the  foremast. 

"Nay,  prithee,  hear  me!"  he  cried.  "I  am  no  seaman  at  all!  My  name 
is  Ebenezer  Cooke,  of  Cooke's  Point  in  Maryland!  I'm  the  Laureate 
Poet!" 

The  Poseidon  s  crew,  despite  the  seriousness  of  their  position,  grinned 
and  elbowed  one  another  at  his  approach. 

"Thou'rt  a  laureate  liar,  Jack,"  growled  one  of  the  pirates,  and  flung 


[256]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

him  into  the  group.  But  the  scene  attracted  notice,  and  a  pirate  officer, 
who  by  age  and  appearance  seemed  to  be  the  Captain,  approached  from 
the  waist. 

"What  is't,  Boabdil?"  The  officer's  voice  was  mild,  and  his  dress,  in  con- 
trast to  the  outlandishness  of  his  men's,  was  modest,  even  gentlemanly; 
on  shore  one  would  have  taken  him  for  an  honest  planter  or  shipowner 
in  his  fifties,  yet  the  great  Moor  was  clearly  alarmed  by  his  approach,  and 
glowered  at  Ebenezer  for  having  precipitated  it, 

"Naught  in  the  world,  Captain.  We  found  these  puppies  buggered  in 
the  fo'c'sle,  and  the  long  one  there  claims  he's  no  sailor." 

"Ask  my  man  here!"  Ebenezer  pleaded,  falling  on  his  knees  before  the 
Captain.  "Ask  those  wretches  yonder  if  I'm  one  of  them!  I  swear  to  you 
sir,  I  am  a  gentleman,  the  Laureate  of  Maryland  by  order  of  Lord  Balti- 
more!" 

In  response  to  the  Captain's  question  Bertrand  attested  his  master's  iden- 
tity and  declared  his  own,  and  the  boatswain  volunteered  additional  con- 
firmation; but  old  Ned,  though  no  one  had  asked  his  opinion,  spitefully 
swore  the  opposite,  and  by  way  of  evidence  produced,  to  the  poet's  horror, 
the  document  signed  in  the  fo'c'sle,  which  proclaimed  Ebenezer  a  member 
of  the  crew. 

"  'Twere  better  for  all  if  ye  signed  them  two  aboard,"  he  added.  "They're 
able  enough  seamen,  but  thieves  and  rogues  to  ship  with!  Don't  let  'em 
fool  ye  with  their  carrying-on!" 

Seeing  their  old  shipmate's  purpose,  some  of  the  other  men  took  up  the 
cry,  hoping  thereby  to  save  themselves  from  being  forced  to  join  the  pi- 
rates. But  the  Captain,  after  examining  Ned's  document,  flung  it  over 
the  side. 

"I  know  those  things,"  he  scoffed.  "Besides,  'twas  signed  by  the  Laureate 
of  Maryland."  He  appraised  Ebenezer  skeptically.  "So  thou'rt  the  famous 
Eben  Cooke?" 

"I  swear't,  sir!"  Ebenezer's  heart  pounded;  he  tingled  with  admiration 
for  the  Captain's  astuteness  and  with  wonder  that  his  own  fame  was  al- 
ready so  widespread.  But  his  troubles  were  not  over,  for  although  the  pirate 
seemed  virtually  persuaded,  he  ordered  both  men  brought  aft  for  identi- 
fication by  the  passengers,  whereupon  he  was  perplexed  to  hear  a  third  ver- 
sion—neither of  the  men  was  a  sailor,  but  it  was  the  older,  stouter  one  who 
was  Laureate,  and  the  skinny  wretch  his  amanuensis.  Captain  Meech 
agreed,  and  added  that  this  was  not  the  servant's  first  presumption  to  his 
master's  office. 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  257  ] 

"Ah,"  the  pirate  captain  said  to  Bertrand,  "thou'rt  hiding  behind  thy 
servant's  skirts,  then!  Yet  how  is't  the  crew  maintain  the  contrary?" 

By  this  time  the  looting  of  the  Poseidon  was  complete,  and  everyone's 
attention  turned  to  the  interrogation.  Ebenezer  despaired  of  explaining 
the  complicated  story  of  his  disguise. 

"What  matters  it  to  you  which  is  the  liar?"  Captain  Meech  inquired 
from  the  quarter-deck,  where  he  was  being  held  at  pistol-point.  "Take 
their  money  and  begone  with  ye!" 

To  which  the  pirate  answered,  undisturbed,  "'Tis  not  the  Laureate's 
money  I  want— he  hath  little  enough  of  that,  I'll  wager."  Ebenezer  and 
Bertrand  both  vouched  for  the  truth  of  this  conjecture.  "  'Tis  a  good  valet 
I'm  after,  to  attend  me  aboard  ship;  the  Laureate  can  go  to  the  Devil." 
"Ye  have  found  me  Out,"  Bertrand  said  at  once.  "I'll  own  I  am  the 
Laureate  Eben  Cooke." 

"Wretch!"  cried  Ebenezer.  "Confess  thou'rt  a  lying  scoundrel  of  a  serv- 
ant!" 

"Nay,  I'll  tell  the  truth,"  the  pirate  said,  watching  both  men  carefully. 
"  Tis  the  servant  can  go  hang  for  all  o'  me;  I've  orders  to  hold  the  Laureate 
on  my  ship." 

"There  is  your  poet,  sir."  Bertrand  pointed  shamelessly  to  Ebenezer.  "A 
finer  master  no  man  ever  served." 

Ebenezer  goggled.  "Nay,  nay,  good  masters!"  he  said  at  last.  "  'Tis  not 
the  first  time  I've  presumed,  as  Captain  Meech  declared!  This  man  here 
is  the  Laureate,  in  truth!" 

"Enough,"  the  pirate  commanded,  and  turned  to  the  turbaned  Moor. 
"Clap  'em  both  in  irons,  and  let's  be  off." 

Thus  amid  murmurs  from  the  people  on  the  Poseidon  the  luckless  pair 
were  transferred  to  the  shallop,  protesting  mightily  all  the  way,  and  having 
confiscated  every  firearm  and  round  of  ammunition  they  could  find  aboard 
their  prey,  the  pirates  gave  the  ladies  a  final  pinch,  clambered  over  the 
rail,  cast  off  the  grapples,  and  headed  for  the  open  sea,  soon  putting 
their  outraged  victims  far  behind.  The  kidnaped  seamen— Chips,  the  boat- 
swain, and  a  youngster  from  the  starboard  watch — were  taken  to  the  cap- 
tain's quarters  to  sign  papers,  and  the  two  prisoners .  confined  forward  in 
the  rope-  and  sail-locker,  which  by  addition  of  a  barred  door  and  leg  irons 
made  fast  to  the  massive  oak  knees  had  been  turned  into  a  lightless  brig. 
Sick  with  wrath  at  his  valet's  treachery  though  he  was,  and  with  appre- 
hension for  his  fate,  Ebenezer  was  also  bewildered  by  the  whole  affair  and 
demanded  to  know  the  reason  for  their  abduction;  but  to  all  such  queries 


[  2rg  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

their  jailer— that  same  black  giant  who  had  first  laid  hands  on  them— sim- 
ply responded,  "Captain  Pound  hath  his  reasons,  mate,"  and  would  say 
no  more.  It  was  not  until  the  leg  irons  were  fastened  and  the  brute,  in  the 
process  of  bolting  the  heavy  door,  repeated  this  answer  for  the  fourth  or 
fifth  time,  that  Ebenezer  recognized  the  name. 

"Captain  Pound,  did  you  say?  Your  captain's  name  is  Pound?" 

'Tom  Pound  it  is,"  the  pirate  growled,  and  stayed  for  no  further  ques- 
tions. 

"Dear  Heav'n!"  the  poet  exclaimed.  He  and  Bertrand  were  alone  in 
the  tiny  cell  now,  and  in  absolute  darkness,  the  Moor  having  taken  the 
lamp  with  him. 

"D'ye  know  the  blackguard,  sir?  Is  he  a  famous  pirate?  Ah  Christ,  that 
I  were  back  in  Pudding  Lane!  I'd  hold  the  wretched  thing  myself,  and  let 
Ralph  Birdsall  do  his  worst!" 

"Aye,  I  know  of  Thomas  Pound."  Ebenezer's  astonishment  at  the  coin- 
cidence—if indeed  it  was  one— temporarily  gained  the  better  of  his  wrath. 
"He's  the  very  pirate  Burlingame  once  sailed  with,  off  New  England!" 

"Master  Burlingame  a  pirate!"  Bertrand  exclaimed.  "At  that,  'tis  no  sur- 
prise to  me " 

"Hold  thy  lying  tongue!"  snapped  Ebenezer.  "Thou'rt  a  pretty  knave 
to  criticize  my  friend,  that  would  throw  me  to  the  sharks  yourself  for  tup- 
pence!" 

"Nay,  prithee,  sir,"  the  servant  begged,  "think  not  so  hard  of  me.  I'll 
own  I  played  ye  false,  but  'twas  thy  life  or  mine,  no  paltry  tuppence." 
What's  more,  he  added,  Ebenezer  had  done  the  same  a  moment  later, 
when  the  Captain  revealed  his  true  intention. 

To  this  truth  the  Laureate  had  no  rejoinder,  and  so  for  a  time  both  men 
were  silent,  each  brooding  on  his  separate  misery.  For  beds  they  had  two 
piles  of  ragged  sailcloth  on  the  floor  timbers,  which,  since  their  cell  was 
in  the  extreme  bow  of  the  shallop,  were  not  horizontal  but  curved  upwards 
from  keel  and  cutwater,  so  that  they  also  formed  the  walls.  The  angle, 
together  with  the  pounding  of  waves  against  the  bow,  would  have  made 
sleep  impossible  for  Ebenezer,  despite  his  great  fatigue,  even  without  the 
additional  discomforts  of  fear  and  excitement.  His  mind  returned  to  Henry 
Burlingame,  who  in  search  of  information  about  his  parentage  had  sailed 
under  the  very  brigand  who  now  held  them  prisoner;  perhaps  aboard  this 
very  ship. 

"Would  he  were  here  now,  to  intercede  for  me!" 

He  considered  revealing  his  friendship  with  Burlingame  to  Captain 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  I  259  ] 

Pound,  but  rejected  the  idea.  He  had  no  idea  what  name  Henry  had  sailed 
under,  for  one  thing,  and  his  friend's  manner  of  parting  company  with 
his  shipmates  would  scarcely  raise  the  value,  in  the  Captain's  eyes,  of  an 
acquaintanceship  with  him.  Ebenezer  recalled  the  story,  told  him  in  the 
Plymouth  coach,  of  Burlingame's  adventure  with  the  mother  and  daughter 
whom  he'd  saved  from  rape,  and  who  had  rewarded  him  with,  among 
other  things,  the  first  real  clue  to  his  ancestry.  How  sorely  did  he  miss 
Henry  Burlingame!  He  could  not  even  remember  with  any  precision 
what  his  dear  friend  looked  like;  at  best  his  mental  picture  was  a  composite 
of  the  very  different  faces  and  voices  of  Burlingame  before  and  after  the 
adventures  in  America.  Bertrand's  remark  came  to  his  mind  again,  and 
brought  with  it  disturbing  memories  of  the  valet's  encounters  with  Henry: 
their  meeting  in  the  London  posthouse,  never  mentioned  by  his  friend, 
and  their  exchange  of  clothing  in  the  stable  of  the  King  o'  the  Seas.  Why 
had  Bertrand  not  been  surprised  to  learn  of  Burlingame's  piracy,  which 
had  so  astonished  Ebenezer? 

"Why  did  you  speak  so  ill  of  Burlingame?"  he  asked  aloud,,  but  in  re- 
ply heard  only  the  sound  of  snoring  from  the  other  side  of  the  great  keel 
timber  between  them. 

"In  such  straits  as  ours  the  wretch  can  sleep!7'  he  exclaimed  with  a  mix- 
ture of  wonder  and  exasperation,  but  had  not  the  heart  to  wake  him.  And 
eventually,  though  he  had  thought  the  thing  impossible,  he  too  succumbed 
to  sheer  exhaustion  and,  in  that  unlikeliest  of  places,  slept. 

By  morning  the  question  had  either  gone  from  his  mind  or  lost  its 
importance,  for  he  said  nothing  of  it  to  his  servant.  It  appeared  as  the  day 
went  on  that  their  treatment  at  the  hands  of  Captain  Pound  was  not  to 
be  altogether  merciless:  after  a  breakfast  of  bread,  cheese,  and  water— not 
punishment,  but  the  whole  crew's  morning  fare— they  were  released  from 
their  leg  irons,  given  some  purloined  clothing,  and  allowed  to  come  on 
deck,  where  they  found  themselves  riding  an  empty  expanse  of  ocean.  The 
Moor,  who  seemed  to  be  first  mate,  set  them  to  various  simple  chores 
like  oakum-picking  and  holystoning;  only  at  night  were  they  returned  to 
their  miserable  cell,  and  never  after  the  first  time  were  they  subjected  to 
the  leg  irons.  Captain  Pound  put  his  case  plainly  to  them:  he  was  per- 
suaded that  one  or  the  other  was  the  Laureate  but  put  no  faith  in  the 
assertions  of  either,  and  meant  therefore  to  hold  both  in  custody.  He  would 
say  no  more  regarding  the  reason  for  their  incarceration  than  that  he  was 
following  orders,  nor  of  its  probable  term  than  that  when  so  ordered  he 


[260]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

would  release  them.  In  the  meantime  they  had  only  to  look  to  their  be- 
havior, and  no  injury  would  be  done  them. 

From  all  this  Ebenezer  could  not  but  infer  that  his  captor  was  in  some 
manner  an  agent  of  the  archconspirator  John  Coode,  at  whose  direction 
he  had  lain  in  ambush  for  the  Poseidon.  The  man  would  stop  at  nothing 
to  reach  his  mischievous  ends!  And  how  devilish  clever,  to  let  the  pirates 
take  the  blame!  The  prospects  of  death  or  torture  no  longer  imminent,  the 
Laureate  allowed  himself  boundless  indignation  at  being  kidnaped— which 
mighty  sentiment,  however,  he  was  sufficiently  prudent  to  conceal  from  the 
kidnapers—and  at  the  same  time  could  not  but  commend  his  foe's  respect 
for  the  power  of  the  pen. 

"Tis  perfectly  clear,"  he  explained  to  Bertrand  in  a  worldly  tone. 
"Milord  Baltimore  had  more  than  the  muse  in  mind  when  he  commissioned 
the  Marylandiad.  He  knows  what  too  few  princes  will  admit:  that  a  good 
poet's  worth  two  friends  at  court  to  make  or  break  a  cause,  though  of  course 
the  man's  too  sensible  of  a  poet's  feelings  to  declare  such  a  thing  outright. 
Why  else  did  he  send  dear  Henry  to  watch  after  me,  d'you  think?  And 
why  should  Coode  waylay  me,  but  that  he  knows  my  influence  as  well  as 
Baltimore?  Ffaith,  two  formidable  antagonists!" 

If  Bertrand  was  impressed,  he  was  not  a  whit  consoled.  "God  pox  the 
twain  of  'em!" 

"Say  not  so/'  his  master  protested.  "  Tis  all  very  well  to  keep  an  open 
mind  on  trifles,  but  this  is  a  plain  case  of  justice  against  poltroonery,  and 
the  man  that  shrugs  compounds  the  felony." 

"Haply  so,"  Bertrand  said  with  a  shrug.  "I  know  your  Baltimore's  a  won- 
drous Papist,  but  I  doubt  me  he's  a  saint  yet,  for  all  that."  When  Ebenezer 
objected,  the  valet  went  on  to  repeat  a  story  he'd  heard  from  Lucy 
Robotham  aboard  the  Poseidon,  the  substance  of  which  was  that  Charles 
Calvert  was  in  the  employ  of  Rome.  "He  hath  struck  a  dev'lish  bargain 
with  the  Pope  to  join  the  Papists  and  the  salvages  against  the  Protestants 
and  butcher  every  soul  of  'em!  Then  when  he  hath  made  a  Romish  fortress 
out  of  Maryland,  the  Jesuits  will  swarm  like  maggots  o'er  the  landscape, 
and  ere  ye  can  say  'Our  Father'  the  entire  country  belongs  to  Rome!" 

"Pernicious  drivel!"  Ebenezer  scoffed.  "What  cause  hath  Baltimore  to 
do  such  evil?" 

"What  cause!  The  Pope  is  sworn  to  beatify  him  if  he  Romanizes  Mary- 
land, and  canonize  him  if  he  snatches  the  whole  country!  He'll  make  a 
bloody  saint  of  him!"  It  was  to  prevent  exactly  this  castastrophe,  Lucy 
Robotham  had  declared,  that  her  father  and  the  rest  had  joined  with  Coode 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  261  ] 

to  overthrow  the  Papists  in  Maryland,  coincidentally  with  the  deposition 
of  King  James,  and  to  petition  William  and  Mary  to  assume  the  government 
of  the  Province.  'Tet  old  Coode  was  ill  paid  for's  labors,"  Bertrand  said, 
"for  no  sooner  was  the  house  pulled  down  than  the  wreckers  fell  out 
amongst  themselves,  and  Baltimore  contrived  to  get  this  fellow  Nicholson 
the  post  of  Governor.  He  flies  King  William's  colors,  but  all  the  world 
knows  he's  a  Papist  at  heart:  when  he  fought  with  James  at  Hounslow 
Heath,  he  said  his  mass  with  the  rest,  and  'twas  an  Irish  Papist  troop  he 
took  to  Boston." 

"Dear  Father!"  Ebenezer  cried.  "What  a  sink  of  calumny  this  Robotham 
strumpet  was!  Nicholson's  as  honest  a  man  as  I!" 

"He  is  the  Duke  of  Bolton's  bastard,"  the  valet  went  on  stubbornly.  "And 
ere  he  took  up  with  the  Papists  he  was  aide-de-camp  to  Colonel  Kirke  in 
Africa.  They  do  declare  he  had  a  draught  of  wine  from  the  Colonel's  arse 
at  Mequinez,  to  please  the  Emperor  Muley  Ishmael " 

"Stop!" 

"Some  say  'twas  May-wine  and  others  Bristol  sherry;  Mistress  Lucy  her- 
self held  with  the  May-winers." 

"I'll  hear  no  more!"  the  poet  threatened,  but  to  his  every  protest 
Bertrand  made  the  same  replies.  "There's  a  lot  goes  on  that  your  honest 
wight  dreams  naught  of,"  or  "More  history's  made  in  the  bedchamber  than 
in  the  throne  room." 

"  'Tis  not  a  fart  to  me  who's  right  or  wrong,"  he  said  at  last.  "This  Coode 
hath  ginned  us  either  way,  and  we'll  ne'er  set  foot  on  land." 

"How  is  that?"  the  poet  demanded.  "I've  fared  no  worse  here  than 
aboard  the  Poseidon,  and  we're  only  to  be  held  till  farther  notice." 

"No  doubt!"  the  servant  said.  "But  if  thou'rt  such  a  cannon  as  Charles 
Calvert  thinks,  is't  likely  Coode.  will  turn  ye  loose  to  blast  him?  'Tis  a 
mystery  to  me  we're  still  alive!" 

Ebenezer  could  not  but  acknowledge  the  logic  of  this  position,  yet 
neither  could  he  be  immediately  terrified  by  it.  Captain  Pound  was 
unquestionably  formidable,  but  he  was  not  cruel:  although  in  the  incident 
related  by  Burlingame  he  had  apparently  condoned  rape,,  he  seemed  to 
draw  the  line  at  murder,  and  his  plundering  of  the  Poseidon  had  been 
almost  gentlemanly.  Moreover  he  was  not  even  avaricious,  as  pirates  go:  for 
weeks  on  end  the  shallop  cruised  with  apparent  aimkssness  from  north  to 
south  and  back  again,  flying  English  colors;  when  a  sail  appeared  on  the 
horizon  the  pirates  gave  chase,  but  upon  overhauling  the  other  ship  they 
would  salute  it  amiably,  and  Captain  Pound  would  inquire,  as  might  the 


L202J  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

captain  of  any  vessel  met  at  sea,  what  port  the  stranger  was  bound  for,  and 
with  what  cargo.  And  though  the  replies  were  sometimes  provocative— 
"Bark  Adelaide,  a  hundred  and  thirty  days  out  of  Falmouth,  for  Philadelphia 
with  silk  and  silverware,"  or  "Brig  Pilgrim  out  of  Jamaica  with  rum  for 
Boston"— only  twice  during  the  three  full  months  of  his  imprisonment  did 
Ebenezer  witness  acts  of  piracy,  and  these  occurred  consecutively  on  the 
same  early  August  day,  in  the  following  manner: 

For  several  days  the  shallop  had  ridden  hove  to,  though  the  weather  was 
fine  and  nothing  could  be  seen  on  any  quarter.  Just  after  the  midday  meal 
on  the  day  referred  to  the  lookout  spied  a  sail  to  westward,  and  after  ob- 
serving it  for  some  time  through  his  glass,  Captain  Pound  said,  "  "Tis  the 
Poseidon,  all  right.  Take  'em  below."  The  three  kidnaped  sailors  were 
ordered  to  their  quarters  in  the  fo'c'sle,  Bertrand  was  confined  to  the  sail- 
locker,  and  Ebenezer,  who  had  labored  all  morning  at  the  apparently  point- 
less job  of  shifting  cargo  in  the  hold,  was  sent  below  to  complete  the  task. 

"Poor  Captain  Meech!"  he  thought.  "This  devil  hath  lain  in  wait  to  ruin 
him!"  Though  he  deplored  the  idea  of  piracy  in  general  and  wished  neither 
Meech  nor  his  passengers  harm,  he  could  not  feel  pity  for  the  sailors  who 
had  done  him  such  an  outrage;  having  witnessed  already  the  ferocity  of 
the  pirates,  he  rather  relished  the  idea  of  a  fight  between  them  and  the 
Poseidon's  crew.  In  any  case  he  had  no  intention  of  missing  the  excitement 
on  deck:  during  the  chase,  which  lasted  no  more  than  an  hour,  he  toiled 
dutifully  in  the  hold,  moving  barrels  and  boxes  aft  in  order  (he  understood 
now)  to  make  room  for  additional  loot;  but  when  the  grapples  were 
thrown  and  all  but  a  handful  of  the  pirates  crouched  at  the  lee  rail  ready 
to  board,  he  climbed  to  the  edge  of  the  after  hatch  and  peered  over. 

His  heart  leaped  at  sight  of  the  familiar  vessel:  there  was  the  quarter-deck 
whereon  he'd  debated  with  Bertrand  the  right  demeanor  for  a  poet  and 
from  which  he'd  been  cast  providentially  into  the  sea;  there  on  the  poop 
stood  Captain  Meech,  grim-faced,  exhorting  his  men  as  before  not  to 
jeopardize  the  passengers'  safety  by  resisting  the  assault,  even  though  he 
had  mounted  a  brand  new  eight-pounder  in  the  bow. 

Ebenezer  clucked  his  tongue.  "Poor  wretch!" 

There  in  the  waist  the  ladies  squealed  and  swooned  as  before,  while  the 
gentlemen,  frowning  nervously,  were  led  off  to  their  cabins  for  robbing; 
there  by  the  foremast  the  sailors  huddled.  Ebenezer  saw  several  of  his 
molesters,  including  Ned,  and  many  new  faces  as  well.  The  pirates,  having 
been  at  sea  for  at  least  the  six  weeks  since  their  last  encounter,  took  no  pains 
to  disguise  their  lust  for  the  ladies  and  the  female  servants:  they  addressed 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  263  ] 

them  in  the  lewdest  terms;  pinched,  poked,  tweaked,  and  stroked.  Captain 
Pound  had  his  hands  full  preventing  wholesale  assault.  He  cursed  the  crew 
in  his  quiet  hissing  voice  and  threatened  them  with  keelhauling  if  they 
did  not  desist.  Even  so,  the  mate  himself,,  black  Boabdil,  driven  nearly 
berserk  by  the  sight  of  an  adolescent  beauty  who,  perhaps  seasick,  had  been 
brought  up  on  deck  in  her  nightdress,  flung  her  over  his  shoulder  and  made 
for  the  railing,  clearly  intending  to  have  at  her  in  traditional  pirate  fashion; 
it  took  the  Captain's  pistol  at  his  temple  to  restrain  the  Moor's  ardor  and 
send  him  off  growling  and  licking  his  lips.  The  girl,  happily,  had  fainted  at 
his  first  approach,  and  so  was  oblivious  to  her  honor's  narrow  rescue. 

So  desperate  did  the  situation  become  that  at  length  the  Captain  ordered 
all  hands  back  aboard  the  shallop,  though  the  pillaging  was  not  entirely 
finished,  and  cast  off  the  grapples.  He  carried  with  him  Captain  Meech, 
two  members  of  the  Poseidon's  crew,  and  one  of  her  longboats,  giving  as 
his  reasons  the  need  for  a  consultation  on  the  subject  of  longitude  and  the 
possibility  that  not  all  of  the  eight-pounder's  ammunition  had  been  con- 
fiscated; he  would  set  them  free,  he  declared,  as  soon  as  the  shallop  was 
out  of  range.  Then  he  set  the  still  grumbling  crew  to  stowing  the  fresh 
provisions  in  preparation  for  the  formal  dividing  of  the  spoils,  and  re- 
treated with  his  hostage  to  the  chartroom. 

Now  Ebenezer  had  of  course  abandoned  his  observation  post  when  the 
pirates  came  back  aboard,  and  so  dangerous  was  their  mood  that  before 
the  first  barrel  of  port  came  down  the  hatch  he  hid  himself  far  aft,  be- 
hind the  old  cargo,  to  avoid  their  wrath.  His  hiding  place  was  a  wide  black 
cranny,  perhaps  three  feet  high,  that  extended  on  both  sides  of  the  keel 
under  the  cabins,  as  far  aft  as  the  rudderpost  in  the  stern.  Since  the  space 
provided  access  to  the  steering-cables  running  from  the  wheel  on  deck 
through  blocks  to  the  rudderpost  itself,  it  was  provided  with  a  false  floor  over 
the  bilge,  on  which  the  Laureate  lay  supine  and  still.  Over  his  head,  which 
was  not  two  feet  from  the  stern,  he  heard  the  sound  of  chairs  scraping  on 
the  floor,  and  presently  a  pair  of  chuckling  voices. 

"By  Heav'n,  the  black  had  like  to  split  her  open!"  said  one,  and  Ebene- 
zer easily  identified  Captain  Pound.  "I  thought  he'd  pitch  me  to  the  fishes 
when  I  stopped  him!" 

The  other  laughed.  "He'd  ha'  spitted  her  through  for  all  I'd  cross  him, 
Tom,  I  swear'tl  Twere  a  pity,  though,  I'll  grant  ye;  she's  a  gentleman's 
morsel,  not  a  beef-bull's,  and  I  mean  to  try  her  ere  we  raise  Lands  End." 

Ebenezer  was  not  surprised  to  hear  the  voice  of  Captain  Meech,  but  he 
was  horrified  at  the  intimacy  suggested  by  their  conversation. 


[  264  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"Do  ye  look  for  trouble?"  Meech  asked. 

"God  knows,  Jim.  Boabdil  is  a  wild  one  when  he  sets  his  cap  for  coney. 
They  all  need  a  week  ashore,  or  I'm  a  dead  man/' 

"Well,  I've  no  orders  for  ye  about  your  poet,  but  I  did  bring  ye  this — 
they  smuggled  it  aboard  at  Cedar  Point." 

There  was  a  pause  while  Meech  brought  forth  whatever  it  was  he  re- 
ferred to,  then  a  slap  as  of  papers  on  the  table.  Ebenezer  strained  his  ears, 
though  every  word  thus  far  he  had  heard  distinctly.  He  forgot  completely 
about  the  original  purpose  of  his  concealment. 

"A  Secret  Historie  of  the  Voiage  Up  the  Bay  of  Chesapeake"  Pound 
read  aloud.  "What  foolery  is  this?" 

"No  foolery,"  Meech  laughed.  "Old  Baltimore  would  cut  your  throat 
for't!  Look  on  the  backsides." 

The  papers  rustled.  "Tore  God!" 

"Aye."  Meech  confirmed  whatever  realization  his  friend  had  reached. 
"They  got  it  off  Dick  Smith  in  Calvert  County— God  knows  howl  He's 
Baltimore's  surveyor  general." 

"But  what  am  I  to  do  with  it?" 

"They  said  Coode  himself  will  come  fort  in  a  month  or  so.  This  is  only  a 
part  of  the  whole  Journal,  from  what  I  gather;  if  he  can  find  the  rest  ere 
things  get  settled,  then  Nicholson  can't  touch  him.  Right  now  the  place  is 
a  bedlam,  Tom:  ye  should  see  St.  Mary's  City!  Andros  came  and  went; 
Lawrence  is  back  in;  Henry  Jowles  hath  Ninian  Beale's  old  job;  old 
Robotham's  back  in,  that  hath  the  daughter  ye  liked—remember  Lucy?" 

"Aye,"  said  Pound,  "from  the  last  time.  She  hath  a  birthmark  on  her 
arse,  you  told  me." 

"Nay,  Tom,  no  birthmark!  Tis  the  Great  Bear  in  freckles,  I  sweaft,  and 
the  pointers  point " 

"No  more!"  Pound  laughed.  "I  remember  where  the  polestar  was,  that 
all  men's  needles  aimed  at.  Go  on  with  Maryland,  now,  ere  ye  have  to 
leave." 

"Marry,  what  a  wench!"  Meech  said.  "Where  was  I?  Did  I  tell  ye  about 
Andros?"  He  went  on  to  relate  that  John  Coode's  brother-in-law,  Neamiah 
Blackistone,  so  influential  under  the  late  Governor  Copley,  had  died  in 
disgrace  last  February  after  the  Commissioners  of  the  Customs-house,  on 
evidence  from  the  "Burlingame's  Journdl  documents"  smuggled  to  Lord 
Baltimore  by  Nicholson,  had  charged  him  with  graft.  Sir  Edmund  Andros 
of  Virginia  had  returned  to  St.  Mary's  in  May  with  Sir  Thomas  Lawrence, 
whom  Copley  had  impeached,  and  made  him  President  of  the  Council 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [265] 

and  acting  Governor  of  Maryland— to  the  rebels'  dismay,  since  it  was 
Lawrence  who  had  smuggled  the  notorious  Assembly  Journal  of  1691  to 
Nicholson.  Then  Nicholson  had  landed,  embraced  his  good  friend  Law- 
rence, and  made  a  Maryland  councillor  out  of  Edward  Randolph,  the 
Jacobite  Royal  Surveyor  so  well  known  up  and  down  the  colonies  for  his 
prankish  contempt  of  provincial  authorities.  But  so  far  from  thanking  his 
old  superior  Andros  for  governing  in  his  absence,  Nicholson  had  promptly 
called  that  government  illegal,  declared  null  and  void  all  statutes  passed 
thereunder,  and  demanded  (thus  far  in  vain)  that  Andros  return  the  five- 
hundred-pound  honorarium  awarded  him  for  his  services  by  Lawrence's 
Council!  The  insurrectionists,.  Meech  declared,  were  making  the  most  of 
this  rebuff  to  turn  Andros  against  Nicholson;  their  leader  Coode  still  held 
with  impunity  the  post  of  sheriff  in  St.  Mary's  County  and  a  lieutenant- 
colonelcy  in  the  county  militia  under  Lawrence  himself,  and  in  these  capac- 
ities drew  his  salary  from  the  very  government  he  was  doing  his  best  to 
overthrow.  Andros  had  already  allowed  Coode  the  services  of  his  "coast- 
guard" Captain  Pound,  of  course,  and  in  addition  had  virtually  promised 
Coode  asylum  in  Virginia  if,  as  was  feared  imminent,  Nicholson  opened 
cases  against  him,  his  ally  Kenelm  Cheseldyne  of  the  Assembly,  and  old 
Blackistone's  widow.  Tlie  insurrectionists,  Meech  said  further,  were  en- 
gaged both  defensively  and  offensively:  they  were  ransacking  the  Province 
for  the  other  portions  of  the  incriminating  Journal,  which  they  understood 
to  be  cached  with  various  Papists  and  Jacobites,  and  at  the  same  time  they 
were  inciting  the  Piscataway  Indians  to  rebel,  perhaps  in  league  with  other 
Indian  nations. 

"Many,  'tis  a  perilous  game  they  play!"  said  Pound.  "I'm  happy  to  be 
at  sea!" 

"I'm  happy  to  be  sailing  east  to  London,  Tom;  this  Coode  would  bum  a 
province  on  a  bet.  Yet  he  doth  pay  handsomely." 

"Speaking  whereof " 

"Aye,"  Meech  said.  There  was  another  pause.  "They  gave  me  this  to 
give  ye  for  holding  Cooke,  and  there's  another  like  it  for  keeping  these 
papers."  Nicholson  had  learned  of  the  Journal's  absence,  he  explained,  and 
was  turning  the  Province  upside  down  to  find  it— hence  the  rebels'  decision 
to  remove  it  from  the  colony  altogether  until  things  settled  down.  Pound 
was  to  cruise  in  his  present  latitude  for  six  weeks,  or  until  a  ship  came  out 
from  Coodte  to  fetch  the  papers.  At  that  time  he  would  receive  his  fee  and, 
in  all  likelihood,  instructions  concerning  his  prisoners. 


[  266  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"Good  enough,"  said  Captain  Pound.  "Now  let  me  give  ye  your  share 
from  the  last  trip." 
"Did  ye  do  well  by't,  Tom?" 

"Not  bad,"  Pound  allowed,  and  added  that  since  the  terms  of  their 
agreement  gave  all  the  cash  to  the  pirates  and  all  the  jewels  to  Meech,  who 
could  easily  sell  them  in  London,  it  was  to  be  expected  that  on  westbound 
trips  the  pirates  would  fare  as  well  or  better,  but  on  eastbound  trips,  when 
many  of  the  passengers  would  have  nothing  left  but  the  family  jewels, 
Meech  would  get  the  lion's  share.  The  transaction  was  completed;  Meech 
made  ready  to  depart  in  the  longboat,  and  Ebenezer,  who  had  heard  the 
entire  colloquy  in  horror  and  astonishment,  prepared  to  evacuate  his  hiding- 
place,  the  pirates  having  long  since  finished  loading  the  hold. 

"One  more  thing,"  Meech  said,  and  the  poet  scrambled  back  to  hear. 
"If  Coode  hath  not  found  the  rest  of  his  Journal  by  the  time  he  fetches 
this  part,  tell  him  I've  a  notion  where  to  look  for't,  but  'twill  cost  him 
twenty  pound  if  he  finds  it  there.  Did  ye  see  what's  writ  on  the  back  of 
all  those  pages?" 

"You  mean  this  Voiage  Up  the  Bay  of  Chesapeake?  What  is  it?" 

Meech  explained  that  Kenelm  Cheseldyne  had  recorded  the  Journal  of 
the  1691  Assembly  on  the  reverse  pages  of  a  bound  quarto  manuscript 
provided  him  by  Coode,  which  happened  to  be  an  old  diary  the  rebel  had 
acquired  while  hiding  out  in  Jamestown.  "  'Twas  a  wight  named  Smith 
wrote  the  diary— damnedest  thing  ye  ever  read!— and  they  all  call  it  'Smith's 
book'  for  safety's  sake,  the  Papists  as  well  as  the  rebels,  though  few  of  'em 
e'er  laid  eyes  on't."  What  would  be  more  natural,  then,  he  asked  of  Pound, 
than  for  Baltimore  to  distribute  the  portions  for  safekeeping  to  various 
confederates  of  the  same  surname? 

Ebenezer  began  to  sweat.  Pound,  to  his  great  relief,  laughed  at  the 
conjecture  as  preposterous,  but  promised  to  relay  it  to  Coode's  agents  for 
what  it  was  worth. 

"Which  is  twenty  pounds,"  Meech  declared  merrily.  "Come,  threaten  me 
to  my  boat,  now,  or  they'll  see  our  game.  I'll  be  back  with  the  Smoker's 
Eket  next  spring  or  before." 

"I'll  ride  the  Line  for  ye,  Jim,"  Pound  promised— referring  to  the  parallel 
of  latitude  extending  from  the  Azores  to  the  Virginia  Capes,  along  which 
the  fleets  customarily  sailed  for  ease  of  navigation. 

Ebenezer  scrambled  out  of  his  cranny,  over  boxes  and  barrels,  and  up 
ths  ladder  to  $ie  hatch,  nearly  sick  with  indignation  and  excitement.  He 
Was  bursting  to  tell  Bertrand  all  he'd  heard;  in  the  considerable  uproar 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  267  ] 

that  greeted  the  appearance  of  the  two  captains  he  was  able  to  climb  to 
the  deck  and  move  forward  to  the  fo'c'sle  companionway  (which  led  also 
to  his  berth  in  the  rope-locker)  without  attracting  undue  notice. 

The  men  were  indeed  in  mutinous  spirits,  ready  to  make  trouble  at  the 
slightest  excuse.  Grudgingly  they  released  the  two  terrified  sailors  from  the 
Poseidon,  whom  they  had  tormented  throughout  the  captains'  private  con- 
versation; their  faces  darkened  as  Meech's  longboat,  under  the  barrels  of 
their  pistols,  struck  out  for  its  mother  ship  on  the  north  horizon. 

Ebenezer  slipped  through  the  foVsle  to  his  cell— which  customarily  re- 
mained unlocked— and  told  Bertrand  the  story  of  Meech's  treachery, 
Coode's  latest  intrigues,  and  the  valuable  document  in  the  Captain's 
quarters. 

"I  must  lay  hands  on  those  papers!"  he  exclaimed.  "How  Coode  came 
by  them  I  can't  imagine,  but  Baltimore  shall  have  them  backl  I  must  steal 
into  Pound's  cabin  and  filch  'em  ere  Coode's  ship  comes." 

Bertrand  shook  his  head.  "Marry,  sir,  'tis  not  thy  fight.  A  poet  hath  no 
part  in  these  things." 

"Not  so,"  Ebenezer  replied.  "I  vowed  to  fling  myself  into  the  arms  of 
Life,  and  what  is  life  but  the  taking  of  sides?  Besides,  Fve  private  reasons 
for  wanting  that  Journal."  How  pleased  would  Burlingame  be,  he  reflected 
happily,  to  learn  that  Captain  John  Smith  had  a  secret  diary!  Who  knew 
but  what  these  very  papers  were  the  key  poor  Henry  so  long  had  sought  to 
unlock  the  mystery  of  his  parentage? 

"I  see  those  reasons  plain  enough,"  the  valet  declared.  "The  book  would 
fetch  a  pretty  price  if  ye  put  it  up  for  bids.  But  'twill  do  ye  small  good  to 
steal  it  when  we've  no  more  than  a  fortnight  left  on  earth.  Marry,  did  ye 
see  what  spirits  the  Moor  is  in?  If  this  Coode  doth  not  kill  us,  the  pirates 
will." 

But  the  Laureate  did  not  agree.  "This  faction  may  be  our  salvation,  not 
our  doom."  He  described  the  delicate  atmosphere  on  deck.  "Tis  Pound 
that  holds  us  prisoner,  not  the  crew/'  he  said.  "They've  naught  to  gain  by 
killing  us  if  they  mutiny,  but  they  may  well  kill  him.  What's  more,  they 
know  naught  of  the  Journal.  Belike  they'll  make  us  members  of  the  crew, 
and  once  the  turmoil  hath  subsided  I'll  find  a  way  to  steal  the  book.  Then 
we  can  watch  our  chance  to  slip  ashore.  Or  better,  once  we're  pirates  like 
the  rest  we  can  hide  aboard  some  ship  we're  sent  to  plunder;  they'd  never 
miss  us.  Let  'em  mutiny,  I  say;  we'll  join  them!" 

As  if  the  last  were  a  command,  an  instant  later  a  shout  went  up  on  deck, 
followed  at  once  by  a  brace  of  pistol-shots.  Ebenezer  and  Bertrand  hurried 


[  268  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

up  to  declare  their  allegiance  to  the  mutineers,  who  they  readily  assumed 
had  taken  charge  of  the  shallop,  and  indeed  they  found  Boabdil  at  the  helm, 
grinning  at  the  men  assembled  in  the  waist.  But  instead  of  lying  dead  on  the 
deck,  Captain  Pound  stood  beside  him,  arms  crossed,  a  smoking  pistol  in 
each  hand  and  a  grim  smile  upon  his  face,  and  it  was  one  of  the  crew,  a 
one-eyed  Carolina  boy  named  Patch,  who  sprawled,  face-down  and  bleeding, 
.on  the  poop  companionway. 

"We'll  put  into  port  when  I  say  so,"  Pound  declared,  and  returned  the 
pistols  to  his  sash.  Two  men  stepped  forward  to  retrieve  their  wounded 
shipmate. 

"Over  the  side  with  him/'  the  Captain  ordered,  and  despite  the  fact  that 
he  was  not  yet  dead,  the  Carolinian  was  tumbled  into  the  ocean. 

"The  next  man  I  shan't  waste  a  ball  on,"  Pound  threatened,  and  did  not 
even  look  back  to  see  his  victim  flounder  in  the  wake. 

"Why  is  the  Moor  so  happy?"  Bertrand  whispered  to  Ebenezer.  "Ye  said 
he  was  the  wrathfulest  of  all." 

The  poet,  stunned  by  his  first  sight  of  death,  shook  his  head  and 
swallowed  furiously  to  keep  from  being  ill. 

Just  then  the  lookout  cried  "Sail,  ho!  Sail  to  eastward!"  The  pirates 
looked  to  see  a  three-master  heading  in  their  direction,  but  were  too 
chastened  to  display  any  great  interest. 

"There,  now!"  laughed  Captain  Pound,  after  examining  the  stranger 
through  his  glass.  "If  Patch  had  held  his  peace  ten  minutes  more,  he'd  not 
be  feeding  sea-crabs!  D'ye  know  what  s'hip  stands  yonder,  men?" 

They  did  not,  nor  did  the  prospect  of  robbing  it  fill  them  with  enthusi- 
asm. 

"  Tis  the  London  ship  I've  l$id  for  these  two  weeks,"  Pound  declared, 
"whilst  you  wretches  were  conspiring  in  the  fo'c'sle!  Did  ye  ne'er  hear  tell 
of  a  brigantine  called  the  Cy/>rwn?" 

On  hearing  this  name  the  crew  cheered  lustily,  again  and  again.  They 
slapped  one  another's  backs,  leaped  and  danced  about  the  deck,  and  at  the 
Captain's  orders  sprang  as  if  possessed  to  ratlines,  sheets,  halyards,  and 
braces.  Topsails  and  forestaysail  were  broken  out,  the  helm  was  put  hard 
OVQT,  and  the  shallop  raced  to  meet  her  newest  prey  head-on. 

"What  is  this  Cyprian^  that  changed  their  minds  so  lightly?"  Bertrand 
whispered. 

"I  do  not  know,"  his  master  answered,  sorry  to  see  the  mutiny  come  to 
naught.  "But  she  hath  sprung  from  the  sea  like  her  namesake,  and  haply 
we'll  fyave  cause  to  love  her,  Lpok  sharp  for  your  chance  to  slip  aboard;  I 
hope  to  steal  the  Journal  if  I  can." 


15:    THE  RAPE  OF  THE  CYPRIAN;  ALSO,  THE  TALE  OF 
HICKTOPEAKE,  KING  OF  ACCOMACK,  AND  THE 
GREATEST    PERIL    THE    LAUREATE     HAS    FALLEN 
INTO  THUS  FAR 


IN  LESS  THAN  A  QUARTER  OF  AN  HOXJR  THE  SHALLOP  AND  THE  BRIGANTINE, 

sailing  smartly  on  opposite  reaches,  were  within  cannon-range  of  each  other. 
Dozens  of  the  brigantine's  passengers  were  crowded  forward  to  see  the 
shallop,  possibly  the  first  vessel  they'd  met  in  weeks;  they  waved  hands  and 
kerchiefs  in  innocent  salutation.  The  pirates,  every  idle  hand  of  whom  was 
similarly  preoccupied,  responded  with  a  fearsome  cry  and  fired  a  round  into 
the  water  dead  ahead  of  their  quarry.  It  was  not  until  then,  when  the  others 
screamed  and  ran  for  cover,  that  Ebenezer  began  to  guess  in  a  general  way 
what  was  afoot:  every  one  of  the  passengers  he  could  see  was  female. 

"Dear  Heav'n!"  he  breathed. 

The  captain  of  the  brigantine  realized  the  shallop's  intention  and  came 
about  to  run  north  before  the  wind,  at  the  same  time  firing  on  the  attacker; 
but  his  defense  came  too  late.  Anticipating  exactly  such  a  maneuver, 
Captain  Pound  had  his  crew  already  stationed  to  follow  suit,  and  the  shallop 
was  under  way  on  the  new  course  before  the  brigantine  finished  setting  her 
sails.  Moreover,  although  the  several  square-rigged  sails  of  the  brigantine 
were  better  for  running  before  the  wind  than  the  fore-and-aft  rig  of  her 
pursuer,  the  shallop's  smaller  size  and  lighter  weight  more  than  compen- 
sated for  the  difference.  Captain  Pound  ordered  his  men  not  to  return  the 
musket-  and  pistol-fire;  instead,  taking  the  helm  himself,  he  cut  so  close 
under  the  brigantine's  stern  that  the  name  Cyprian,  on  a  banner  held  by 
carved  oak  cupids,  was  plainly  legible  on  her  transom.  At  the  very  moment 
when  the  shallop's  bowsprit  seemed  about  to  pierce  the  victim's  stern,  he 
veered  a  few  degrees  to  starboard;  the  cannoneer  in  the  bow  fired  a  ball 
point-blank  into  the  brigantine's  rudder,  and  the  chase  was  over.  The 
Cyprian's  crew  scrambled  to  take  in  sail  before  the  helpless  vessel  capsized. 
By  the  time  the  shallop  came  about  and  retraced  her  course  the  brigantine 
was  rolling  under  bare  poles  in  the  swell;  the  crew  stood  with  upraised  arms, 
the  first  mate  ran  a  white  flag  up  the  main  halyards,  and  the  captain,  hands 
clasped  behind  him,  waited  on  the  poop  deck  for  the  worst. 


[  2JO  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

The  pirates  were  beside  themselves.  They  thronged  to  the  rail,  shouting 
obscenities  and  making  the  lewdest  gestures.  It  was  all  Boabdil  could  do 
to  bring  the  shallop  alongside,  so  preoccupied  were  they  all  with  their  joy: 
the  Moor  himself  had  stripped  off  all  but  his  tall  red  headgear  and  stood 
like  a  black  nightmare  at  the  helm.  At  length  the  grapples  were  made 
fast,  the  sails  struck,  and  the  two  ships  lashed  together  along  their  beams, 
so  that  they  rode  like  mated  seabirds  on  the  waves.  Then  with  shrieks  and 
howls  the  pirates  swarmed  over  the  rails,  cursing  and  stumbling  in  their 
haste.  The  Cyprian's  crew  backed  off  in  fright,  but  no  one  paid  them  the 
slightest  attention:  indeed,  Captain  Pound  had  finally  to  force  three  of  his 
men  at  pistol-point  to  tie  them  to  the  masts.  The  rest  had  no  thought  for 
anything  but  breaking  open  the  companionway  and  cabin  doors,  which  the 
terrified  passengers  had  bolted  from  inside. 

Their  savagery  made  Ebenezer  blanch.  Beside  him  where  he  stood  near 
the  shallop's  foremast  was  the  oldest  member  of  the  pirate  crew,  Carl,  the 
sailmaker— a  wizened,  evil-appearing  little  man  in  his  sixties  with  a  short, 
dirty  beard  and  no  teeth  at  all— chuckling  and  shaking  his  head  at  the  .scene. 

"Is  the  ship  full  of  women?"  the  Laureate  asked  him. 

The  old  man  nodded  mirthfully.  "She's  the  whore-boat  out  o'  London." 
Once  or  twice  a  year,  he  explained,  the  Cyprian's  captain  took  on  a  load  of 
impoverished  young  ladies  who  were  willing  to  prostitute  themselves  for 
six  months  in  the  colonies,  where  the  shortage  of  women  was  acute.  The 
girls  were  transported  without  charge;  the  enterprising  captain  received  not 
only  their  fares  but— in  the  case  of  girls  with  special  qualifications  such  as 
virginity,  respectability,  or  extreme  youth  or  comeliness— a  handsome  bonus 
as  well  from  the  brothel-masters  who  came  to  Philadelphia  from  all  over 
the  provinces  for  the  purpose  of  replenishing  or  augmenting  their  staffs.  As 
for  the  girls,  some  had  already  been  prostitutes  in  London,  others  were 
women  rendered  desperate  by  poverty  or  other  circumstances,  and  some 
simply  hard-reasoning  young  serving  girls  bent  on  reaching  America  at  any 
cost,  who  found  six  months  of  prostitution  more  attractive  than  the 
customary  four-year  indenture  of  the  colonial  servant 

"Every  pirate  on  the  coast  keeps  his  eye  out  for  the  Cyprian  this  time  o' 
year/'  the  sailmaker  said.  "There's  better  than  a  hundred  wenches  behind 
that  door.  Lookee  there  at  Boabdil!" 

Ebenezer  saw  the  naked  Moor  push  aside  his  shipmates  and  raise  a  huge 
maul  that  he  had  found  nearby,  probably  teft  on  deck  by  the  brigantine's 
carpenter.  With  one  blow  he  splintered  the  door  and  dived  headlong  in- 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  2JI  ] 

side,  the  others  close  behind  him.  A  moment  later  the  air  was  split  with 
screams,  and  curses. 

Ebenezer's  knees  trembled.  "Poor  wretches!  Poor  wretches!" 

"This!"  scoffed  Carl  the  sailmaker,  and  cackled  at  the  poet's  consterna- 
tion. "  'Tis  but  a  bloody  prayer  meeting,  this  is!  Ye  should  have  sailed  last 
year  with  old  Tom  Tew  of  Newport,  as  I  did.  One  time  we  sailed  from 
Libertatia  to  the  coast  of  Araby,  and  in  the  Red  Sea  we  overhauled  one  o' 
the  Great  Mogul's  ships  with  pilgrims  bound  for  Mecca;  a  hundred  gun  she 
carried,  but  we  boarded  her  without  losing  a  man,  and  what  do  ye  think  we 
found?  Sixteen  hundred  virgins,  sir!  Not  a  maidenhead  more  nor  less! 
Sixteen  hundred  virgins  bound  for  Mecca,  the  nicest  little  Moors  ye  e'er 
laid  eyes  upon,  and  not  above  a  hundred  of  us!  Took  us  a  day  and  a  night 
to  pop  'em  all— Frenchmen,  Dutchmen,  Portogeezers,  Africans,  and  Eng- 
lishmen, we  were— and  ere  we  had  done,  the  deck  Iooke4  like  a  butcher's 
block.  There  is  not  the  like  o'  that  day  and  night  in  the  history  of  the 
lickerish  world,  I  swear't!  I  cut  a  brace  myself,  for  all  I  was  coming  on  to 
sixty— little  brown  twins  they  were,  and  tight  as  a  timber-hitch,  and  I've 
ne'er  got  up  the  old  fid  since!" 

He  rambled  on,  but  Ebenezer  could  not  bear  to  hear  him  out.  For  one 
thing,  the  scene  on  deck  was  too  arresting  for  divided  attention:  the  pirates 
dragged  out  their  victims  in  ones  and  twos,  a-swoon  or  awake,  at  pistol- 
point  or  by  main  strength.  He  saw  girls  assaulted  on  the  decks,  on  the 
stairways,  at  the  railings,  everywhere,  in  every  conceivable  manner.  None 
was  spared,  and  the  prettier  prizes  were  clawed  at  by  two  and  three  at  a 
time.  Boabdil  appeared  with  one  over  each  shoulder,  kicking  and  scratching 
him  in  vain:  as  he  presented  one  to  Captain  Pound  on  the  quarter-deck, 
the  other  wriggled  free  and  tried  to  escape  her  monstrous  fate  by  scrambling 
up  the  mizzen  ratlines.  The  Moor  allowed  her  a  fair  head  start  and  then 
climbed  slowly  in  pursuit,  calling  to  her  in  voluptuous  Arabic  at  every  step. 
Fifty  feet  up,  where  any  pitch  of  the  hull  is  materially  amplified  by  the 
height,  the  girl's  nerve  failed:  she  thrust  bare  arms  and  legs  through  the 
squares  of  the  rigging  and  hung  for  dear  life  while  Boabdil,  once  he  had 
come  up  from  behind,  ravished  her  unmercifully.  Down  on  the  shallop  the 
sailmaker  clapped  his  hands  and  chortled;  Ebenezer,  heartsick,  turned  away. 

He  saw  Bertrand  a  little  distance  behind  him,  watching  with  undisguised 
avidity,  and  recalled  his  plan.  The  time  was  propitious:  every  member  of 
the  shallop's  crew  except  old  Carl  was  busy  at  his  pleasure,  and  even 
Captain  Pound,  who  normally  stood  aloof  from  all  festivities,  had  found 


[  272  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

the  Moor's  trophy  too  tempting  to  refuse  and  had  disappeared  with  her 
into  the  brigantine's  cabin. 

"Look  sharp!"  he  whispered  to  the  valet.  "I'm  going  for  the  Journal  now, 
and  then  we'll  try  to  slip  aboard  the  Cyprian!'  And  ignoring  Bertrand's 
frightened  look,  he  made  his  way  carefully  aft  to  the  doorway  of  Captain 
Pound's  quarters.  It  required  no  searching  to  find  what  he  sought:  the 
Journal  lay  in  plain  view  on  the  table,  its  loose  pages  held  fast  by  a  fungus- 
coral  paperweight.  Ebenezer  snatched  it  up  and  scanned  the  first  page 
with  pounding  heart:  a  transcription  of  the  Assembly's  convening,  mean- 
ingless to  him.  But  on  the  redo 

"Ah!" 

A  Secret  Historic  of  the  Voiage  Up  the  Bay  of  Chesapeake  From 
Jamestowne  in  Virginia,  he  read,  Undertaken  in  the  Yeer  of  Our  Lord 
1608  By  C°»*  Jno  Smith,  &  Faithfullie  Set  Down  in  Its  Severall  Parts  By 
the  Same.  And  Below,  in  an  antique,  almost  illegible  hand,  the  narrative 
commenced,  not  as  a  diary  at  all  but  as  a  summary  account,  probably  meant 
as  the  initial  draft  of  part  of  the.  author's  well-known  Generall  Historie  of 
Virginia: 

Seven  souldiers,  six  gentlemen,  Dr  Russell  the  Chirurgeon  &  my  selfe  did 
embark  from  the  towne  of  Kecoughtan,  in  Virginia^  in  June  of  the  present 
yeer  1608, 

To  wdk  a  wayless  Way  with  uncouth  Pace, 
Wch  yet  no  Christian  Man  did  ever  trace.  .  .  . 

Much  farther  than  this  the  poet  dared  not  read  at  the  moment,  but  he 
could  not  refrain  from  thumbing  rapidly  through  the  rest  of  the  manuscript 
in  search  of  the  name  Henry  Burlingame.  It  did  not  take  long  to  find: 
No  sooner  was  the  King  asleep,  he  read  on  an  early  page,  then  I  straightway 
made  for  the  doore,  and  w*  have  fulfill'd  his  everie  wish,  had  not  Ld 
Burlingame  prevented  me,  and  catching  hold  of  my  arme,  declared,  That 
he  did  protest  my  doing  this  thing.  .  .  . 

"Burlingame  a  Lord!"  Ebenezer  exclaimed  to  himself,  and  joyfully  thrust 
the  manuscript  into  his  shirt,  holding  it  fast  under  the  waist  of  his  breeches. 
He  peeped  out  onto  the  deck.  All  seemed  clear:  the  only  man  in  a  position 
to  spy  him  was  the  Moor  in  the  Cyprian's  mizzenrigging,  and  he  was 
occupied  with  climbing  down  for  further  conquests,  leaving  his  first  quite 
ravaged  in  the  ratlines.  The  sun  was  setting;  its  long  last  rays  lit  the  scene 
unnaturally,  from  the  side,  with  rose  and  gold. 

"Hi  ho,  Master  Eben!" 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  273  ] 

The  Laureate  quailed  at  the  salute,  which  greeted  him  as  soon  as  he 
stepped  out  of  Captain  Pound's  cabin.  But  the  voice  was  Bertrand's. 

"Stupid  fellow!  He'll  do  me  in  yet!"  He  looked  for  the  valet  in  vain  on 
the  shallop's  deck:  the  sailmaker  stood  alone  by  the  railing. 

"Come  along,  Master  Eben!  Over  here!"  The  voice  came  from  the  direc- 
tion of  the  brigantine.  Horrified,  Ebenezer  saw  Bertrand  standing  in  the 
vessel's  stern,  about  to  have  at  a  plump  lass  whom  he  was  bending  over 
the  taffrail,  Ebenezer  signaled  frantically  for  the  man  to  come  back,  but 
Bertrand  laughed  and  shook  his  head.  "They've  asked  us  to  join  'em!"  he 
called,  and  turned  to  his  work. 

For  Ebenezer  to  slip  aboard  unnoticed  was  unthinkable  in  the  face  of 
this  defection.  All  over  the  Cyprian  the  debauch  continued;  the  hapless 
women,  gilded  by  the  sunlight,  had  for  the  most  part  abandoned  hope, 
and  instead  of  running,  submitted  to  their  attackers  with  pleas  for  mercy 
or  stricken  silence.  The  poet  shuddered  and  fled  to  his  cell  in  the  rope- 
locker,  determined,  since  he  could  not  make  his  escape,  to  take  advantage 
of  the  diversion  to  read  through  the  precious  manuscript.  He  borrowed 
a  lamp  from  the  fo'c'sle,  closed  the  heavy  door,  took  out  the  Journal,  and 
lay  on  his  bed  of  tattered  sailcloth,  where  he  read  as  follows: 

Seven  souldiers,  six  gentlemen,  D1*  Russell  the  Chinirgeon  &  my  selfe  did 
embark  from  the  towne  of  Kecoughtan,  in  Virginia,  in  June  of  the  present  yeer 
1608, 

To  -walk  a  wayless  Way  with  uncouth  Pace, 
Wcl1  yet  no  Christian  Man  did  ever  trace.  , 

We  took  for  the  voiage  a  barge  of  three  tonnes  burthen,  to  the  provisioning 
-whereof  I  earlie  set  the  great  Liverpooler  Henry  Burlingame,  that  I  durst  not 
leave  behind  to  smirch  my  name  with  slander  &  calumnie.  Yet  scarce  had  we 
dropt  Kecoughtan  to  Southward,  then  I  found  the  wretch  had  play'd  me  false; 
to  feed  the  companie  of  fifteene  men  the  summer  long,  he  had  supply9  d  one 
meager  sack  of  weevilie  oats  and  a  barricoe  of  cloudie  water!  I  enquir'd  of  him, 
Wd  he  starve  us?  Or  did  he  think  to  make  me  turn  tayle  home?  Wch  latter  hope 
I  knew,  he  shar'd  with  all  the  idle  Gentlemen  his  fellows.  Then  I  set  them  dl 
to  short  rations  and  fishing  over  the  gunwhales,  albeit  I  knew  no  means  to  cooke 
a  fish  in  the  barge.  The  truth  was,  I  reckoned  on  a  landfall  within  two  dayes,  but 
said  naught  of  it,  and  what  fish  they  caught  I  threw  back  in  the  Bay.  I  then 
commenced  instructing  one  &  dl  in  the  art  of  sayles  &  tiller,  w°*  matters  the 
souldiers  took  to  readilie  and  the  Gentlemen  complayn'd  of — none  lowder  then 
Ld  Burlingame,  that  I  had  a-bayling  water  from  the  bilge. 

This  Burlingame  wd  say  to  his  neighbour,  What  doth  the  Captain  reck  it  if 
we  perish?  What  time  he  getteth  in  a  pickle,  we  Gentlemen  must  grubb  him  out, 
eke  some  naked  Salvage  wench  ftieth  down  from  Heaven  to  save  his  neck.  By 


[  274  I  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

woh  he  referr'd  to  Pocahontas,  Powhcttans  daughter,  that  some  months  past  had 
rescu'd  me,  and  I  saw,  he  meant  to  devill  me  through  the  voiage. 

Next  day  we  rays'd  a  cape  of  land,  lying  due  North  of  Kecoughtant  and  the 
companie  rejoyc'd  thereat,  inasmuch  as  there  bellies  all  complctyn'd  of  meale  & 
clowdie  water.  We  made  straightway  to  shoar,  whereupon  we  found  a  pair  of 
fearsome  Salvages,  arm'd  with  bone-poynt  speares.  I  made  bold  to  salute  them, 
and  was  pleas' d  to  learn,  they  spake  a  tongue  like  Powhatans,  to  wch  Emperour 
they  declar'd  them  selves  subject.  The  fiercenesse  of  these  men  was  in  there 
paynt  alone;  they  were  but  spearing  fish  along  the  shallows.  Upon  my  entreatie, 
they  led  us  to  there  town  and  to  there  King,  that  was  call'd  Hicktopeake. 

Then  follow' d  an  adventure,  wch  I  cannot  well  include  among  my  Histories. 
I  shall  set  it  down  upon  these  privie  pages,  for  that  it  shews  afresh  that. enmity 
I  spake  of,  betwixt  Ld  Burlingame  &  my  selfe,  wch  led  us  anon  to  the  verie  doore 
of  Death.  .  .  . 

"Mercy!"  Ebenezer  cried,  and  turned  the  page. 

This  Hicktopeake,  then,  bade  us  well  come  to  his  Kingdom,  the  woh  he  did 
call  Accomack,  and  lay'd  before  us  a  sumptuous  meale.  I  observed  him,  while 
that  we  ate,  and  I  sweare  him  to  be  the  comliest,  proper,  civill  Salvage  we  in- 
counter1  d.  I  din'd  well,  as  is  my  wont,  and  also  Walter  the  physician  and  the 
souldiers,  but  our  Gentlemen  shew'd  smalle  appetyte  for  Salvage  cookerie.  Burlin- 
game, in  especiall,  shew'd  little  stomacke,  for  a  man  of  his  corpulencie,  and  who 
had  been  erst  so  lowd  of  his  bellie.  The  meale  done,  Hicktopeake  delivered  him 
selfe  of  a  smalle  speech,  again  bidding  us  well  come  to  his  towne,  and  offering  to 
replenishe  our  supplies  ere  we  left  him.  It  seem'd  to  me  then,  he  shew'd  a  curious 
eagernesse;  that  we  shd  tarrie  somewhile  with  him,  but  I  learn' d  not  the  cause  of  it 
at  once. 

On  my  enquiring  of  him,  the  extent  of  his  Kingdom?  Hicktopeake  reply'd 
onely  that  it  was.  of  considerable  breadth,  and  ran  awaye  up  the  countrie,  untill 
that  the  land  grewe  wider.  This  territorie  he  rul'd  conjoyntlie  with  his  Brother, 
one  Debedeavon,  called  by  the  Salvages,  the  Laughing  King  of  Accomack.  Debe- 
deavons  towne,  we  learn' d  was  farther  inland,  where  he  liv'd  with  his  Queene  in  a 
goodlie  house.  I  ask'd  then,  Where  was  Hicktopeakes  Queene?  meaning  no  more 
then  a  courtesie  by  my  question.  But  seeing  his  face  grewe  all  beclowded,  I  sought 
to  change  the  topick,  and  inquired,  Why  was  Debedeavon  cdl'd  the  Laughing 
King?  Whereupon,  albeit  I  knew  not  why,  Hicktopeakes  wrath  did  but  increase, 
so  that  he  was  scarce  able  to  contain  him  selfe.  I  sdwe  no  frute  in  farther  inquirie, 
and  $o  held  my  peace,  and  smoak'd  of  the  tobacco  that  was  then  pa$t  round. 

Hicktopeake  at  length  regayning  somewhat  of  his  controll,  he  did  command 
my  partie  to  be  given  lodging  for  the  night,  and  I  consented,  for  that  the  skye  was 
lowing,  and  bade  fowk  weather.  The  Gentlemen  and  my  selfe,  were  given  place 
in  Hicktopeakes  howse,  that  for  all  his  being  King,  was  but  a  single  roome  of  large 
dimension.  All  did  forthwith  set  them  selves  to  sleep,  save  Burlingame,  who  ever 
hownds  my  steps,  and  sleeps  not  save^when  I  sleep  also.  The  King  &  I  then 
smoak'd  many  pipes  beside  the  fyre,  in  dR  silence.  I  knew  well,  he  was  desirous  of 
speaking  farther  to  me,  but  that  after  the  manner  of  the  Salvage,  he  tarry' d  long 


THE   SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  275  ] 

ere  commencing.  For  this  reason  I  yearn9 d  that  Burlingame  $M  retyre,  that  we 
might  speake  privilie,  but  this  he  wd  notf  maugre  my  hints  &  suggestions. 

At  last  Hicktopeake  spake,  and  talk'd  a  great  -while  of  trifling  things,  as  is  the 
Salvages  -wont.  Then  he  said,  in  substance  (for  I  am  here  Englishing  his  speech]  , 
Sir,  ye  doubtlesse  mark  me  a  batchelor,  for  that  no  wife  attendeth  me  in  my 
house,  or  at  my  board,  and  farther,  that  upon  thy  enquirie,  Where  was  my 
Queene?  I  mayde  thee  no  replie.  Yet  in  this  thou  art  mistaken.  Queene  have  I  in 
sooth,  and  of  surpassing  comelinesse,  that  I  have  onely  latelie  had  to  wife.  Yet 
wife  she  is  not,  for  is  it  not  the  first  requirement  of  a  wife,  that  she  seeke  not  far- 
ther than  her  wedded  spouse,  for  her  felicitie?  But  my  Queene,  she  findeth  me 
deficient,  though  I  mark  my  selfe  a  man  in  everie  wise,  and  she  goeth  about  un- 
satisfy'd.  And  Queene  she  is  not,  for  is  it  not  the  first  requirement  of  a  Queene, 
that  she  doe  naught  but  what  will  shewe  the,  greatnesse  of  her  King?  But  my 
Queene,  from  her  dissatisfaction  with  my  manlinesse,  doth  ever  seek  pleasure  in 
the  howses  of  other  men,  thereby  bringing  disgrace  upon  my  head;  and  stille  she 
goeth  unsatisfy'd,  by  her  own  pronouncement.  Now  this  is  an  evill  thing,  for  that 
not  onely  doth  this  woman  dishonour  my  selfe,  and  keep  me  for  ever  wearie,  but 
also  she  fatigueth  all  the  young  men  of  my  towne,  and  old  as  well.  She  is  even  as 
is  the  leech,  that  having  tasted  bloud,  can  never  drink  his  fille;  or  as  the  owle,  that 
devoureth  all  the  myjce  of  the  field,  and  goeth  ye't  hungrie  to  her  nest.  My 
Brother,  Debedeavon,  maketh.  much  of  this  matter,  and  laugheth  at  me  still 
(wherefor  they  call  him>  the  Laughing  King).  A  wife  he  hath,  that  he  keepeth 
well  satisfy' d,  and  hence  regardeth  him  selfe  my  better,  as  doe  his  people  mine. 
(Yet  is  his  wife  a  mowse,  and  lightlie  filtd,  for  that  oft  have  I  try'd  her  my  own 
selfe,  the  while  my  brother  fish'd.)  Therefore  1  aske  of  thee  of  the  faire  skinne 
this,  that  ye  assaye  to  please  the  Queene7  or  teach  her  to  be  pleas'd  even  with 
that  w°A  she  hath  alreadie,  to  the  end  that  peace  &  honour  may  reign  in  my 
towne,  and  my  Brother  mock  me  no  farther.  For  I  judge  of  thy  dresse,  thy  strange 
vessell,  and  thy  manlie  bearing,  thou  art  no  common  man,  but  a  doer  of  won- 
ders. 

Thus  spake  this  Hicktopeake,  and  I  heard  him  with  amazement,  for  that  most 
men,  that  cd  not  satisfye  there  wives,  were  loath  to  own  there  deficiencie  to  an- 
other man.  Yet  I  did  admire  his  truthfullnesse  &  candour,  &  his  generositie,  in 
inviting  my  selfe  to  attempt^  what  he  c*  not  doe.  With  as  much  of  grace  as  I  c* 
muster,  I  accepted  Hicktopeakes  offer,  whereupon  he  shew'd  me  a  doore  of  his 
howse,  the  woh  he  said,  open'd  upon  the  chamber  of  the  Queene.  Then  he  lay'd 
him  selfe  down  next  the  fyre  and  slept,  onely  fitfullie,  as  well  a  man  might,  that 
hath  granted  leave  to  another  to  go  in  unto  the  wife  of  his  bed. 

No  sooner  was  the  King  asleep,  then  I  straightway  made  for  the  doore,  and  w* 
have  fulfilVd  his  everie  wish,  had  not  L*  Burlingame  prevented  me,  and  catching 
hold  of  my  arme,  said,  That  he  did  protest  my  doing  this  thing.  I  enquifd,  Why 
did  he  protest?  seeing  that  I  knew  him  for  no  Catholick  Saint.  Whereto  he  re- 
ply* d,  Thai  be  that  as  may,  he  purposed  to  doe  the  thing  him  selfe,  for  that  I  had 
received  the  favours  of  Pocahontas,  and  had  deftowr'd  that  same  maide  by.  scurril- 
ous subterfuge,  whereas  he  had  enjoy' d  naught  of  her,  nor  had  layn  with  woman, 
since  that  he  set  sayle  from  London.  Moreover,  he  declar'd,  That  SM  I  refuse  him 


[  2j6  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

this  favour  (albeit  he  was  in  my  debt  for  his  scurvie  life),  he  meant  to  noyse  the 
truth  about  my  egg-plant  receipt  all  over  Jamestowne,  and  London  as  well. 

Hereupon  I  told  him,  That  he  cd  plough  the  Salvage  Queene  all  he  chose,  I 
car'd  not,  and  said  farther,  That  were  she  halfe  the  Messdina  good  Hicktopeake 
made  her  out,  it  wd  want  more  man  then  tenne  of  Burlingame,  to  pacifie  her.  This 
said,  I  bow'd  him  to  the  doore,  and  joyn'd  my  mooring  fellows  at  the  fyre.  Yet  I 
went  not  to  sleep  my  owne  selfe,  but  rested  awake  &  smoak'd  tobacco,  thinking, 
That  in  all  probabilitie  my  nights  adventures  were  not  done. 

At  length  Burlingame  return' d,  much  out  of  humour,  and  upon  my  enquiring 
of  him,  Was  the  Queen  so  lightlie  pleas' d?  he  but  broke  wind  at  me,  and  seeing 
the  King  stule  slept,  call'd  her  divers  kinds  of  whoore  &  peddle-bumme.  He  w*, 
he  said,  have  gone  into  her,  for  that  she  had  received  him  with  friendlinesse  enow, 
but  that  when  he  stoode  all  readie  to  doe  his  carnall  work,  she  had  demanded  of 
him,  Where  was  his  monie?  and  he  having  naught  to  offer,  save  a  parcell  of  to- 
bacco, she  straightway  turn1  d  upon  her  bellie,  and  wd  no  more  of  him.  Whereon 
he  had  left  her. 

I  did  laugh  greatlie  at  this  tale,  and  said  to  him,  that  he  wd  ever  fare  iU  in  con- 
quests of  women,  for  that  he  was  put  off  so  lightlie.  And  it  was  a  happie  thing,  for 
both  our  heads,  that  Powhatan  erst  had  set  my  selfe  to  pierce  his  daughters  nether 
armour,  and  not  him.  By  way  of  answer,  Burlingame  but  broke  wind  againe,  and 
said,  That  if  I  wish'd  to  make  good  my  boasts,  the  doore  was  yet  unlatch* d,  and 
the  Queene  yet  flatt  upon  the  grownd.  For  him,  he  w*  nothing  farther  of  the 
whoore,  be  she  Queene  or  scullerie  maide. 

I  hifd  me  then  without  losse  of  time  to  the  Queenes  apartment,  leaving 
Burlingame  at  the  fyre  to  stewe  in  his  owne  cowardice.  Directlie  my.  eyes  grewe 
us'd  to  the  dark,  I  made  out  the  Queene  her  selfe,  once  more  upon  her  back.  She 
was  a  passing  comelie  Salvage,  I C*  see,  with  gracious  features,  shapelie  limbs,  and 
a  smalle  flatt  bellie,  and  her  papps  &  other  appurtenancies  were  such,  as  to  whett 
any  mans  lust  Upon  her  directing  me,  in  Salvage  jargon,  to  doe  my  wille, 
I  prick d  up  like  a  doggs  eare,  at  smelle  of  meate.  I  presented  my  selfe  as  Ca*>*  J7*0 
Smith  of  Virginia,  deeming  it  a  beastlie  thing,  to  swive  a  woman  without  first  ex- 
changing cordialities.  But  to  this  she  pay'd  no  heed  a  all,  onely  shew'd  me,  by  cer- 
taine  movements,  she  mark'd  such  pleasantries  a  waste  of  time.  Therefore  I 
hasten' d  to  undoe  mytselfe,  and  had  clipp'd  her  on  the  instant,  but  that  she  stay'd 
my  ardour;  and  pointing  to  that  place,  the  wc7t  she  had  in  Salvage  fashion  pluck9 d 
bald  as  a  biskett  &  bedawb'd  with  puccoon  paynt,  she  demanded  first  some  pay- 
ment, saying,  That  she  was  not  wont  to  bestowe  her  charms  for  naught. 

This  troubled  me  not  a  whitt,  for  that  I  was  us'd  to  dealing  with  both  whoores 
&  Salvages.  I  fetch'd  up  my  breeches,  and  withdrewe  therefrom  a  fistfull  of 
bawbles,  that  ever  charme  the  Salvage  eye.  These  I  gave  her,  but  she  flung  them 
awaye,  and  demanded  something  more.  I  gave  her  then  a\  smalle  charme,  that  I 
had  got  from  a  dead  Moor,  the  woh  was  said  to  have  magick  powers,  but  this 
neither  she  deign' d  to  accept  After  that  I  offered  the  slutt  a  lewd  figure  done  in 
ivorie,  a  smalle  coyne  inscribed  in  filthie  Arabick,  and  the  pledge  of  twelve  yardes 
of  Scotch  cloth,  to  be  deliver' d  on  the  next  boat  from  London — all  to  no  avdle. 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  277  ] 

She  w*  have  six  lengths  of  wompompeag,  she  sdd,  or  nine  of  roanoke,  for  her 
favours,  and  naught  besides,  for  that  her  other  lovers  were  wont  to  pay  that 
summe  for  her  bodie,  she  being  the  Queene.  I  made  replye,  That  I  had  no  Sal- 
vage monies  on  my  person,  nor  meanes  of  acquiring  any,  but  wd  she  grant  me  sat- 
isfaction of  my  lust,  I  wd  send  her  a  pound  Sterling  from  Jamestowne,  enough 
coyn  to  purchase  a  bakers  dozen  tarts  in  London.  But  the  Queene  w*  none  of  my 
pound  Sterling,  and  rolling  on  her  bellie,  let  goe  a  fart  w071  had  done  honour  to 
Elizabeth  her  selfe.  I  did  declare,  That  Cw*  j™  Smith  was  not  put  off  so  lightlief 
and  when  that  she  reply1 d  as  before,  I  vow'd  to  have  my  fille  of  her  regardlesse. 
There  is  a  saying  amongst  the  worldlie  French,  that  when  a  man  cannot  eate 
thrush,  he  must  perforce  make  doe  with  crowe.  I  tarryrd  no  longer,  but  straight- 
way work'd  upon  the  Queene  that  sinne,  for  w°h  the  Lord  rayn'd  fyre  upon  the 
Cities  of  the.Playne.  ... 

When  that  I  had  done,  I  drewe  away  and  waited  for  the  Queene  to  catt 
her  bodie-guards  to  fetch  me,  u^  I  suppos'd  she  wd  forthwith.  For  a  space  she  lay 
a-panting  on  the  grownd,  and  when  at  last  she  had  her  winde,  tooke  from  her 
necke  tenne  strings  of  wompompeag,  wch  she  presented  me.  She  then  declared, 
That  she  had  got  love  enow  that  night,  to  give  her  payne  till  the  new  moone.  So 
saying,  she  felle  into  a  swoone-like  sleep,  and  I  retired  to  the  other  roome,  to  chide 
Burlingame  for  his  want  of  fancie.  This  he  took  in  his  wonted  ill  humour,  for  that 
I  had  the  better  of  him  yet  againe.  .  .  „ 

I  did  sleep  late  into  the  daye,  and  when  I  woke,  found  Hicktopeake  in  his  royall 
chaire,  with  all  his  Lieutenants  round  about.  He  had  bade  them  be  silent,  the 
while  I  slept,  and  on  my  rowsing  up  came  forward,  and  embraced  me,  and  declared 
I  SM  be  second  in  rule  over  his  towne,  and  have  the  comeliest  Salvage  of  his  tribe 
to  wife,  for  that  I  had  restored  his  peoples  peace.  I  enquired,  How  was  that  so?  &nd 
he  made  answer,  That  the  Queene  had  come  to  him  that  dawne,  and  beggd  for^ 
givenesse  for  her  infidelitie,  and  swore  that  so  satisfy' d  was  she  of  me,  she  never 
w*  againe  goe  a-roving  from  the  Kings  bedstead.  Onely,  he  said,  he  fear'd  her  re- 
solve might  not  endure  for  long;  it  must  needs  have  been  by  meanes  of  some  un- 
common virilitie  I  had  pleased  her,  and  I  was  leaving  his  towne  anon. 

With  that  I  led  him  aside,  and  related  to  him  privilie  the  simple  trick  I  had 
employ' d,  assuring  him,  that  he  cd  doe  the  thing  as  well  as  1.  For  so  smalle  was  the 
puddle,  any  frogg  seem'd  greate  therein.  Hicktopeake  had  never  heard  of  such  a 
practice  (w*h  I  had  learnt  from  the  scurvie  Arabs) ,  and  he  listened  in  amazement. 
Naught  w*  then  suffice  but  he  must  put  his  learning  to  the  test,  and  so  he  hi'd 
him  selfe  apace  from  out  the  roome. 

While  that  he  was  gone  thus  a-wooing,  I  gather9 d  together  my  compcmie,  and 
told  them  to  make  readie  our  vessell,  for  I  design' d  to  sayle  that  selfe  same  morn- 
ing, to  take  up  the  course  of  our  explorations.  They  did  set  to  at  once,  all  save 
Burlingame,  that  grows' d  about  the  shoarline  kicking  pebbles,  and  we  were  neare 
readie  to  sayle,  when  Hicktopeake  came  out  from  his  howse.  He  embfac'd  me 
dgaine,  this  time  more  warmlie  then  before,  and  beggd  me  stay  in  his  towne  for 
ever,  as  his  Prince  &  successor.  So  had  he  woo'd  the  Queene,  he  said,  she  w*  be 
three  days  rysing  from  her  bed,  and  costive  the  week.  But  I  declined  his  offer, 
saying,  That  I  had  business  elsewhere  to  attend.  After  much  debate  he  did  re- 


[  278  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

signe  him  selfe,  and  gave  me  leave  to  goe,  presenting,  me  &  my  companie  with.dl 
manner  of  Salvage  gifts,  and  food  &  water  for  our  vesselL 

Thus  at  last  we  did  set  sayle  once  more,  and  headed  for  the  maine,  and  what- 
ever lay  before  us.  I  was  a  trifle  loath  to  goe,  and  wd  fain  have  tarry1 d  some  smdle 
space,  for  that  Hicktopeake  did  declare  to  me  his  intention,  of  journeying  to  the 
towne  of  Debedeavon  his  Brother,  and  there  so  ploughing  Debedeavons  Queene, 
after  the  manner  he  had  learnt,  as  to  confound  his  Brother  for  ever.  Whereupon 
he,  Hicktopeake,  s™  be  the  Laughing  King  of  Accomack.  W°*>  forsooth  were  worth 
the  witnessing.  But  the  favour  of  Kings  is  a  slipperie  boone,  lightlie  granted  &  as 
lightlie  forsworne,  and  I  deem'd  it  more  prudent  to  absent  my  selfe  betimes, 
while  that  I  was  yet  in  his  good  graces,  then  to  linger,  and  perchance  weare  out 
my  welcome  there  in  Accomack.  .  .  . 

Here  ended  the  narrative,  or  what  fragment  of  it  Meech  had  brought 
aboard.  Ebenezer  read  it  again,  and  a  third  time,  hoping  to  find  in  it  some- 
thing to  connect  Henry  Burlingame  with  his  luckless  namesake  in  the  story. 
But  there  was  every  indication  that  Captain  Smith's  antagonist,  who  Henry 
hoped  would  prove  to  be  his  ancestor,  was  not  only  childless  but  un- 
married, and  his  future  with  the  company  of  explorers  was  far  from  promis- 
ing. With  a  sigh  the  Laureate  assembled  the  pages  of  the  Journal  and  con- 
cealed it  under  his  sailcloth  bed,  where  no  one  was  likely  to  find  it.  Then 
he  extinguished  the  lantern  and  sat  for  some  while  in  the  dark.  The  naked 
sounds  of  rape,  floating  through  the  shallop's  foVsle,  conjured  pictures  clear 
enough  to  make  him  shiver.  Together  with  the  story  in  the  manuscript— 
which  was  as  much  a  revelation  to  him  as  it  had  been  to  Hicktopeake— 
they  forced  his  reverie  willy-nilly  into  a  single  channel,  and  before  long  he 
found  himself  physically  moved  by  desire.  He  could  not  in  honesty  assert 
that  his  pity  for  the  Cyprian  girls  was  unambiguous,  or  his  condemnation 
of  their  assault  wholehearted;  if  he  had  been  shocked  by  the  spectacle, 
he  had  also  been  excited  by  it,  and  so  fascinated  that  no  lesser  business 
than  that  of  the  Journal  could  have  summoned  him  away.  Indeed,  the 
sight  of  the  young  girl  trapped  in  the  rigging  like  a  fly  in  a  web,  and  of 
Boabdil  climbing  leisurely  up  to  envelop  her  like  a  great  black  spider,  had 
aroused  him  as  its  memory  aroused  him  now. 

It  was  abundantly  clear  to  him  that  the  value  of  his  virginity  was  not  a 
moral  value,  even  as  he  had  explained  to  Bertrand  one  day  on  the  Poseidon. 
But  the  mystic  ontological  value  he  had  ascribed  to  it  seemed  less  convincing 
now  than  it  had  seemed  then.  The  recollection  of  Joan  Toast's  visit  to  his 
room,,  for  example,  which  was  customarily  dominated  by  his  speech  at  her 
departure  or  the  hymn  to  virginity  composed  afterwards,  stopped  now  at 
the  memory  of  the  girl  herself,  sitting  pertly  on  his  bed,  and  would  go  no 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  279  ] 

farther.  She  had  leaned  forward  and  embraced  him  where  he  knelt  before 
her:  her  breasts  had  brushed  like  cool  silk  on  his  forehead;  his  cheek  had 
lain  against  the  cushion  of  her  stomach;  his  eyes  had  lingered  close  to  The 
Mystery! 

From  outside  came  another  cry,  a  hard,  high  protest  that  trailed  into 
lamentation.  There  was  an  ancient  ring  to  it,  an  antique  sorrow,  that  put 
the  poet  in  mind  of  Philomela,  of  Lucretia,  of  the  Sabine  virgins  and  the 
daughters  of  Troy,  of  the  entire  wailing  legion  of  the  raped.  He  went  to 
the  companionway,  and  climbing  it  looked  skyward  at  the  stars.  How 
trifling  was  the  present  scene  to  them,  who  had  watched  the  numberless 
wars  of  men,  the  sack  of  nations,  and  the  countless  lone  assaults  in  field 
and  alley!  Was  there  a  year  in  time  when  their  light  had  not  been  dimmed, 
somewhere  on  earth,  by  the  flames  of  burning  cities?  That  instant  when  he 
stepped  out  on  the  deck,  how  many  women  heard— in  England,  Spain,  and 
far  Cipango— the  footfall  of  the  rapist  on  the  stair,  or  in  the  path  behind? 
The  ranks  of  women  ravished,  hundreds  and  thousands  and  millions  strong, 
of  every  age  and  circumstance— the  centuries  rang  and  echoed  with  their 
cries;  the  dirt  of  the  planet  was  watered  with  their  tears! 

The  scene  aboard  the  Cyprian  was  considerably  less  violent  now,  though 
by  no  means  tranquil.  Around  the  masts  her  crew  were  still  tied  fast,  and 
watched  the  festivities  in  sullen  silence;  thus  far  none  had  been  harmed. 
The  pirates,  their  first  lust  spent,  had  broken  out  the  rum  and  were  fast 
succumbing  to  it.  Already  some  lay  senseless  in  the  scuppers;  others 
sprawled  with  their  prizes  on  the  decks  and  cabin  roofs,  taking  drinks  and 
liberties  by  turn,  but  no  longer  able  to  consummate  their  wooing;  still  others 
had  lost  interest  altogether  in  the  women— they  danced,  sang  bawdy  songs, 
or  played  ombre  under  lanterns  in  the  balmy  air,  almost  as  on  any  other 
evening  at  sea.  From  the  cabins  came  the  sound  of  more  carousing,  but  not 
of  violence:  two  girls,  it  seemed,  were  being  obliged  to  perform  some  trick 
against  their  will,  and  Ebenezer  heard  several  women  join  in  the  general 
laughter  and  encouragement. 

"So  lightly  they  accept  their  fate!"  He  thought  again  of  the  Trojan 
widows,  advised  by  Hecuba  to  resign  themselves  without  protests  to  being 
concubines  and  slaves. 

The  least  enviable  lot,  so  far  as  he  could  see,  was  that  of  seven  ladies 
trussed  hip  to  hip  over  the  Cyprian's  starboard  rail  in  classic  pirate  fashion, 
so  that  their  heads  and  upper  bodies  hung  over  the  somewhat  lower  shallop; 
yet  even  these,  despite  the  indignity  and  clear  discomfort  of  their  position, 
were  not  entirely  overwhelmed  with  misery.  One,  it  is  true,  appeared  to 


[280]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

be  weeping,  though  she  was  not  being  molested  at  the  moment,  and 
two  others  stared  expressionless  at  their  arms,  which  were  lashed  at  the 
wrist  to  the  bottom  of  the  balusters;  but  the  others  were  actually  gos- 
siping with  Carl  the  sailmaker,  who  smoked  his  pipe  on  the  shallop's  deck 
before  them!  At  sight  of  Ebenezer,  who  came  up  beside  him,  they  were 
not  in  the  least  abashed. 

"Oh  dear,"  said  one,  feigning  alarm,  "here  comes  another!" 

"Ah,  now,  he  seems  a  likely  lad,"  said  her  neighbor,  who  was  older.  "Ye'd 
not  do  aught  unchivalrous,,  would  ye,  son?" 

Even  as  they  laughed,  a  drunken  pirate  reeled  up  behind  them. 

"Ouch!"  cried  the  one  to  whom  he  made  his  presence  known.  "Tell  him, 
Carl,  'tis  not  my  turn!  Hi!  The  wretch  takes  me  for  a  roast  of  mutton!  Tell 
him,  Carl!" 

The  sailmaker,  by  reason  of  his  age,  had  some  authority  among  his  ship- 
mates. "Have  at  some  other,  matey,"  he  advised.  The  pirate  obligingly 
moved  to  the  tearful  youngster  on  the  end,  who  at  his  first  touch  gave  a  cry 
that  pierced  Ebenezer  to  the  heart. 

"Nay,  ye  blackguard*  don't  dare  jilt  me!"  cried  the  woman  first  molested. 
"Come  hither  to  one  that  knows  what's  what!" 

"Aye,  leave  the  child  in  peace,"  another  scolded.  "I'll  show  ye  how  'tis 
done  in  Leicestershire!"  Aside  to  her  companions  she  added,  "Pray  God 
'tis  not  the  Moor!" 

"Ye  asked  fort,"  said  the  pirate,  and  returned  to  his  original  choice. 

"Marry,  there's  a  good  fellow!"  she  cried,  pretending  pleasure.  "'Sheart, 
what  a  stone-horse,  girls!"  To  her  neighbor  she  said  in  a  stage  whisper, "  Tis 
not  the  Moor  by  half,  but  Grantham  gruel:  nine  grits  and  a  gallon  o'  water. 
Aiel  Gramercy,  sir!  Gramercyl" 

The  other  three  were  highly  entertained. 

"Your  friend  is  yonder  in  the  cabin,"  Carl  said  to  Ebenezer.  "Hop  to't 
if  ye've  a  mind  for  the  ladies,  for  we  shan't  tarry  here  much  longer." 

"Indeed?"  Ebenezer  shifted  uncomfortably;  the  women  were  regarding 
him  with  interest.  "Perhaps  I'd  better  see  what  mischief  Bertrand  is  about." 

"Ah,  'sblood,  he  doth  not  care  for  us,"  one  of  the  women  said.  "He  likes 
his  friend  better."  The  rest  took  up  the  tease,  even  the  one  being  wooed, 
and  Ebenezer  beat  a  hasty  retreat. 

"I  cannot  fathom  it,"  he  said  to  himself. 

Though  he  had  dismissed  entirely  the  notion  of  stowing  away  aboard 
the  Cyprian  and  had  little  or  no  interest  in  his  valet's  present  activities,  he 
borrowed  courage  enough  from  those  two  motives  to  board  the  brigantine, 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  281  ] 

having  first  walked  aft  to  escape  the  women's  remarks.  He  could  not  deny, 
however,  his  intention  to  stroll  bgck  in  their  direction  from  the  vantage 
point  of  the  Cyprian's  deck,  at  least  out  of  curiosity.  He  climbed  to  the 
rail  and  grasped  the  brigantine's  mizzen  shrouds  to  pull  himself  over. 
When  by  chance  he  happened  to  look  aloft,  the  moonlight  showed  him  a 
surprising  sight:  high  in  the  mizzen-rigging  the  Moor's  first  conquest  still 
hung,  forgotten  by  all;  her  arms  and  legs  stuck  through  as  though  in  stocks. 
One  could  not  judge  her  condition  from  below:  perhaps  she  maintained 
her  perch  out  of  fear,  hoping  to  escape  further  assault;  or  it  could  be  she 
was  a-swoon— her  position  would  keep  her  from  falling.  Neither  was  it  im- 
possible that  she  was  dead,  from  the  bite  of  her  great  black  spider.  Assuring 
himself  that  only  his  curiosity  wanted  satisfying,  but  in  a  high  state  of 
excitement  nonetheless,  Ebenezer  swung  his  feet  not  to  the  deck  of  the 
Cyprian  but  onto  the  first  of  the  mizzen  ratlines,  and  methodically,  in  the 
manner  of  Boabdil,  climbed  skyward  to  the  dangling  girl.  .  .  . 

His  ascent  caused  the  shrouds  to  tremble;  the  girl  stirred,  peered  down- 
wards, and  buried  her  face  with  a  moan.  The  poet,  positively  dizzied  with 
desire,  made  crooning  noises  in  her  direction. 

"I  shall  have  at  thee,  lass!  I  shall  have  at  thee!" 

When  he  had  got  but  halfway  up,  however,  Captain  Pound  stepped  out 
from  the  cabin  below,  and  the  Moor  ordered  all  hands  back  to  the  shallop. 
The  men  responded  with  loud  protests  but  nevertheless  obeyed,  taking 
desperate  final  liberties  as  they  went.  Ebenezer  doubled  his  rate  of  climb. 

"I  shall  have  at  thee!" 

But  Boabdil's  voice  came  up  from  below.  "You  in  the  mizzen-rig!  Down 
with  ye,  now!  Snap  to't!" 

The  girl  was  literally  within  reach,  but  to  no  avail.  "Thou'rt  a  lucky 
wench!"  he  called  up  boldly. 

The  girl  looked  down  at  him.  In  the  moonlight,  from  the  present  dis- 
tance, she  bore  some  slight  resemblance  to  Joan  Toast,  the  recollection  of 
whom  had  fired  his  original  desire.  There  was  a  look  of  horror  on  her  face. 

Weak  with  excitement,  Ebenezer  called  out  to  her  again:  "A  minute 
more  and  I  had  split  thee!" 

She  hid  her  face,  and  he  climbed  down.  A  few  minutes  later  the  pirates 
had  cast  off  the  grapples  and  were  doing  their  best  to  make  sail.  Looking 
back  over  the  widening  stretch  of  ocean,  Ebenezer  saw  the  women  of  the 
Cyprian  untie  their  colleagues  at  the  rail  and  set  free  the  crew.  Up  in  the 
mizzen-rigging  he  could  still  discern  the  white  figure  of  the  girl,  his  desire 


[  282  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

for  whom,  unsatisfied,  began  already  to  discommode  him.  The  relief  he 
felt  at  the  accidental  rescue  of  his  essence  was,  though  genuine,  not  nearly 
so  profound  a  sensation  as  had  been  his  strange  possession  in  the  rigging, 
which  he  could  not  begin  to  understand.  Surely,,  he  insisted,  there  was 
more  to  it  than  simple  concupiscience:  if  not,  why  did  the  thought 
of  the  Moor's  attack,  for  example,  make  him  nearly  ill  with  jealousy? 
Why  had  he  chosen  the  girl  in  the  ratlines  instead  of  those  along  the  rail? 
Why  had  her  resemblance  to  Joan  Toast  (which  for  that  matter  he 
may  only  have  fancied)  inflamed  rather  than  cooled  his  ardor?  His  whole 
behavior  in  the  matter  was  incomprehensible  to  him. 

He  turned  away  and  made  for  his  cell  in  the  rope-locker,  both  to  assure 
himself  of  the  safety  of  his  precious  manuscript  and  in  some  manner  to 
alleviate,  if  he  could,  his  growing  pain.  Even  as  he  lowered  himself  down 
the  foVsle  companionway  a  sharp,  shrill  female  cry  rang  out  through  the 
darkness  from  the  brigantine's  direction,  followed  by  another  and  a  third. 

"Their  turn,  now,"  said  someone  on  the  shallop,  and  a  number  of  the 
pirates  chuckled.  The  blood  rushed  from  Ebenezer's  brain;  he  swayed  on 
the  ladderway  and  found  it  necessary  to  pause  a  moment,  his  forehead 
pressed  against  an  upper  rung. 

"She's  but  a  whore;  a  simple  whore/'  he  said  to  himself,  and  was  obliged 
to  repeat  the  words  several  times  before  he  could  proceed  with  his  descent. 

Whether  because  he  thought  he  had  put  it  away  for  safekeeping  before 
boarding  the  Cyprian  or  because  he  was  too  drunk  on  returning  to  notice 
its  absence,  Captain  Pound  did  not  disclose  the  loss  of  the  Journal  fragment 
until  after  noon  of  the  following  day,  by  which  time  Ebenezer  had  found 
an  even  better  hiding-place  for  it.  Thinking  it  imprudent  to  trust  his  valet 
too  far,  he  had  waited  until  Bertrand  went  on  deck  that  morning  and 
had  then  transferred  his  prize  from  under  his  pallet  to  a  fold  in  the  canvas 
of  a  brand  new  sail  which  lay  at  the  bottom  of  a  pile  of  others  on  a  large 
shelf  near  at  hand.  Thus  when  in  the  afternoon  he  and  Bertrand  stripped 
to  the  skin  with  the  rest  of  the  crew  and  stood  by  while  Boabdil  and  the 
Captain  combed  the  ship,  he  was  not  alarmed  to  see  them  throw  aside  the 
rag-beds  in  his  cell:  for  them  to  unfold  and  refold  every  spare  sail  on  the 
shelf  would  have  been  unthinkable.  After  a  two-hour  search  failed  to  dis- 
cover the  manuscript,  Captain  Pound  concluded  that  someone  from  the 
Cyprian  had  sneaked  aboard  to  steal  it.  All  that  day  and  the  next  the  pirates 
raced  to  find  the  brigantine  again,  until  the  sight  of  Cape  Henlopen  and 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [283] 

Delaware  Bay  put  an  end  to  the  chase  and  forced  them  back  to  the  safety 
of  the  open  sea. 

His  loss  made  the  Captain  daily  more  sour  and  irascible.  His  suspicion 
naturally  fell  heaviest  on  Ebenezer  and  Bertrand:  though  he  had  no  reason 
to  believe  that  either  had  prior  knowledge  of  the  Journal's  presence  on  the 
ship  and  no  evidence  that  either  had  stolen  it— both  had  been  seen  aboard 
the  Cyprian,  for  example— he  nevertheless  confined  them  to  their  cell  again, 
out  of  ill  humor.  At  the  same  time  he  had  the  Moor  lay  ten  stripes  on  the 
sailmaker's  aged  back  as  punishment  for  failing  to  see  the  thief:  the  flogging 
could  be  heard  in  the  rope-locker,  and  Ebenezer  had  to  remind  himself, 
uncomfortably,  that  the  manuscript  was  exceedingly  valuable  to  the  cause 
of  order  and  justice  in  Maryland.  To  Bertrand,  who  had  nearly  swooned 
during  the  search  of  their  quarters,  he  declared  that  he  had  thrown  the 
Journal  into  the  sea  for  fear  of  discovery,  and  that  old  Carl  was  after  all  a 
pirate  whom  any  judge  ashore  would  doubtless  hang. 

"Nonetheless,"  he  added  resolutely,  "should  I  hear  they  mean  to  kill  or 
torture  anyone  for't,  even  that  loathesome  beast  Boabdil,  I  shall  confess." 
Whether  he  would  in  fact,,  he  did  not  care  to  wonder;  he  made  the  vow 
primarily  for  Bertrand's  sake,  to  forestall  another  defection. 

"Small  difference  whether  ye  do  or  no,"  the  valet  answered,  "Our  time's 
nigh  up  in  either  case."  He  was,  indeed,  perilously  disheartened;  from  the 
first  he  had  been  skeptical  of  Ebenezer's  plan  to  escape,  and  even  that  long 
chance  was  precluded  by  their  present  confinement.  In  vain  did  Ebenezer 
point  out  that  it  was  Bertrand  who,  by  his  conduct  aboard  the  Cyprian, 
had  spoiled  their  best  opportunity  to  escape:  such  truths  are  never  con- 
solations. 

Their  prospects  darkened  as  the  day  of  the  shallop's  scheduled  rendez- 
vous approached.  They  heard  the  crew  in  the  fo'c'sle  complain  of  the 
Captain's  mounting  severity:  three  had  been  put  on  short  rations  for  no 
greater  crime  than  that  Pound  had  overheard  them  comparing  notes  on 
the  Cyprian  women;  a  fourth,  who  as  spokesman  for  the  group  had  in- 
quired how  soon  they  would  put  into  some  port,  had  been  threatened  with 
keelhauling.  Daily  the  two  prisoners  feared  that  he  would  take  it  into  his 
head  to  put  them  to  some  form  of  torture.  The  one  bright  happenstance  of 
the  entire  period,  both  for  the  crew  and  for  Ebenezer,  was  the  news  that 
the  Moor,  whom  they  had  come  to  resent  for  executing  the  Captain's  orders, 
had  been  blessed  by  one  of  his  victims  on  the  brigantine  with  a  social 
disease. 

"Whether  'tis  French  pox  or  some  other,  I  don't  know,"  said  the  man 


[284]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

who  had  the  news,  "but  he  is  sore  as  a  boil  oft  and  cannot  walk  to  save  him/' 
Ebenezer  readily  assumed  that  it  was  the  girl  in  the  mizzen-rigging  who 
had  been  infected,  for  though  Boabdil  had  assuredly  not  confined  his  exer- 
cise to  her,  none  of  the  other  pirates  showed  signs  of  the  malady.  The 
disclosure  gave  him  a  complexly  qualified  pleasure:  in  the  first  place  he 
was  glad  to  see  the  Moor  thus  repaid  for  the  rape,  yet  he  quite  understood 
the  oddity  of  this  emotion  in  the  light  of  his  own  intentions.  Second,  the  re- 
lief he  felt  at  so  narrowly  escaping  contagion  himself,  like  the  relief  at 
having  his  chastity  preserved  for  him,  failed  to  temper  his  disappointment  as 
he  thought  it  should.  And  third,  the  presence  of  infection  suggested  that  the 
girl  had  not  been  virginal,  and  this  likelihood  occasioned  in  him  the  follow- 
ing additional  and  not  altogether  harmonious  feelings:  chagrin  at  having 
somewhat  less  cause  to  loathe  the  Moor  and  relish  his  affliction;  disap- 
pointment at  what  he  felt  to  be  a  depreciation  of  his  own  near-conquest; 
alarm  at  the  implication  of  this  disappointment,,  which  seemed  to  be  that 
his  motives  for  assaulting  the  girl  were  more  cruel  than  even  the  Moor's, 
who  would  not  have  assumed  her  to  be  virginal  in  the  first  place;  awe  at 
the  double  perversity  that  though  his  lust  had  been  engendered  at  least 
partially  by  pity  for  what  he  took  to  be  a  deflowered  maiden,  yet  he  felt  in 
his  heart  that  the  pity  was  nonetheless  authentic  and  would  have  been 
heightened,  not  diminished,  during  his  own  attack  on  her,  whereas  the 
revelation  that  she  had  not  lost  her  maidenhead  to  Boabdil  materially 
diminished  it;  and  finally,  a  sort  of  overarching  joy  commingled  with  relief 
at  a  suspicion  that  seemed  more  probable  every  time  he  reviewed  it— the 
suspicion  that  his  otherwise  not  easily  accountable  possession  by  desire, 
contingent  as  it  had  been  on  the  assumption  of  her  late  deflowering 
and  his  consequent  pity,  was  by  the  very  perverseness  of  that  contingency 
rendered  almost  innocent,  an  affair  as  it  were  between  virgins.  This  mystic 
yearning  of  the  pure  to  join  his  ravished  sister  in  impurity:  was  it  not,  in 
fact,  self-ravishment,  and  hence  a  variety  of  love? 
'Very  likely/'  he  concluded,  and  chewed  his  index  fingernail  for  joy. 
How  Captain  Pound  explained  his  dereliction,  the  Laureate  never 
learned.  The  six  weeks  ran  their  course;  well  after  dark  on  the  appointed 
day  the  prisoners  heard  another  ship  saluted  by  the  pirates,  and  the  sound 
of  visitors  brought  aboard  from  a  longboat.  Whatever  the  nature  of  the 
parley,  it  was  brief:  after  half  an  hour  the  guests  departed.  All  hands  were 
ordered  aloft,  and  into  the  rope-locker  came  the  sounds  of  the  pirates  mak- 
ing sail  in  the  gentle  breeze.  As  soon  as  the  shallop  gained  steerage-way  the 
acting  first  mate— none  other  than  the  boatswain  impressed  from  the 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  285  ] 

Poseidon,  who  had  so  rapidly  and  thoroughly  adjusted  to  his  new  circum- 
stances that  Pound  appointed  him  to  replace  the  ailing  Moor— climbed 
down  into  the  fo'c'sle,  unlocked  the  door  of  the  brig,  and  ordered  the 
prisoners  on  deck. 

"Aie!"  cried  Bertrand.  "'Tis  the  end!" 

"What  doth  this  mean?"  the  Laureate  demanded. 

"'Tis  the  end!  Tis  the  end!" 

"  Tis  the  end  o'  thy  visit,"  the  boatswain  grumbled.  "I'll  say  that  much/' 

"Thank  Heav'n!"  Ebenezer  cried.  "Is't  not  as  I  said,  Bertrand?" 

"Up  with  ye,  now." 

"One  moment,"  the  poet  insisted.  "I  beg  you  for  a  moment  alone,  sir, 
ere  I  go  with  you.  I  must  give  thanks  to  my  Savior."  And  without  waiting 
for  reply  he  fell  to  his  knees  in  an  attitude  of  prayer. 

"Ah,  well,  then "  The  boatswain  shifted  uncertainly,  but  finally 

stepped  outside  the  cell.  "Only  a  moment,  though;  the  Captain's  in  foul 
spirits." 

As  soon  as  he  was  alone  Ebenezer  snatched  the  Journal  manuscript  from 
its  hiding-place  nearby  and  thrust  it  into  his  shirt.  Then  he  joined  Bertrand 
and  the  boatswain. 

"I  am  ready,  friend,  and  to  this  cell  bid  Adieu  right  gladly.  Is't  a  boat 
hath  come  for  us,  or  are  we  so  near  shore?  'Sblood,  how  this  lifts  my  heart!" 

The  boatswain  merely  grunted  and  preceded  them  up  the  companionway 
to  the  deck,  where  they  found  a  mild  and  moonless  mid-September  night. 
The  shallop  rode  quietly  under  a  brilliant  canopy  of  stars.  All  hands  were 
congregated  amidships,  several  holding  lanterns,  and  greeted  their  ap- 
proach with  a  general  murmur.  Ebenezer  thought  it  only  fit  that  he  bid 
them  farewell  with  a  bit  of  verse,  since  all  in  all  they  had,  save  for  the  past 
six  weeks,  treated  him  quite  unobjectionably:  but  there  was  not  time  to 
compose,  and  all  he  had  in  stock,  so  to  speak  (his  notebook  having  -been 
left  behind,  to  his  great  sorrow,  on  the  Poseidon)  was  a  little  poem  of 
welcome  to  Maryland  that  he  had  hatched  at  sea  and  committed  to 
memory— unhappily  not  appropriate  to  the  occasion.  He  resolved  therefore 
to  content  himself  with  a  few  simple  remarks,  no  less  well  turned  for  their 
brevity,  the  substance  of  which  would  be  that  while  he  could  not  approve 
of  their  way  of  life,  he  was  nonetheless  appreciative  of  their  civil  regard  for 
himself  and  his  man.  Moreover,  he  would  conclude,  what  a  man  cannot 
condone  he  may  yet  forgive:  Many  a  deed  that  the  head  reviles  finds 
absolution  in  the  heart;  and  while  he  could  not  but  insist,,  should  they  ever 
be  apprehended  at  their  business,  that  their  verdict  be  just,  he  could  pray 


[286]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

nonetheless,  and  would  with  his  whole  heart,  that  their  punishment  be 
merciful. 

But  it  was  not  his  fortune  to  deliver  himself  of  these  observations,  for 
immediately  upon  reaching  the  gathering  he  and  Bertrand  were  set  upon 
by  the  nearest  pirates  and  held  fast  by  the  arms.  The  group  separated  into 
a  double  column  leading  to  the  larboard  rail,  from  the  gangway  of  which, 
illuminated  by  the  flickering  lanterns,  the  prisoners  saw  a  plank  run  out 
some  six  feet  over  the  sea. 

"Nay!"  Ebenezer's  flesh  drew  up  in  goose  bumps.  "Dear  God  in 
Heav'n!" 

Captain  Pound  was  not  in  sight,  but  somewhere  aft  his  voice  said  "On 
with't."  The  grim-faced  pirates  drew  their  cutlasses  and  held  them  ready; 
Ebenezer  and  Bertrand,  at  the  inboard  end  of  the  gauntlet,  were  faced 
toward  the  plank,  released,  and  at  the  same  moment  pricked  from  behind 
with  swords  or  knives  to  get  them  moving. 

"From  the  first,  gentlemen,  I  have  been  uncertain  which  of  you  is 
Ebenezer  Cooke,"  said  Captain  Pound.  "I  know  now  that  the  twain  of  you 
are  impostors.  The  real  Ebenezer  Cooke  is  in  St.  Mary's  City,  and  hath 
been  these  several  weeks." 

"Nay!"  cried  the  poet,  and  Bertrand  howled.  But  the  ranks  of  steel  blades 
closed  behind  them,  and  they  were  shortly  teetering  on  the  plank.  Below 
them  the  black  sea  raced  and  rustled  down  the  freeboard;  Ebenezer  saw  it 
sparkle  in  tie  flare  of  the  lanterns  and  fell  to  his  knees,  the  better  to  clutch 
at  the  plank.  No  time  for  a  parting  song  like  that  of  Arion,  whose  music  had 
summoned  dolphins  to  his  rescue.  In  two  seconds  Bertrand,  farther  out- 
board, lost  his  balance  and  fell  with  a  screech  into  the  water. 

"Jump!"  cried  several  pirates. 

"Shoot  him!"  others  urged. 

'TGodI"  wailed  Ebenezer,  and  allowed  himself  to  tumble  from  the  plank. 


16:    THE  LAUREATE  AND  BERTRAND,  LEFT  TO  DROWN, 
ASSUME  THEIR  NICHES  IN  THE  HEAVENLY  PANTHEON 


FOR  BETTER  OR  WORSE,  THE  LAUREATE  FOUND  THE  WATER  WARM;  THE 

initial  shock  of  immersion  was  gone  by  the  time  he  scrabbled  to  the  surface, 
and  when  he  opened  his  eyes  he  saw  the  lights  of  the  shallop's  stern,,  already 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [287] 

some  yards  distant,  slipping  steadily  away.  But  despite  the  moderate 
temperature  of  the  water  his  heart  froze.  He  could  scarcely  comprehend 
his  position:  uppermost  in  his  mind  was  not  the  imminence  of  death  at  all, 
but  that  last  declaration  of  Captain  Pound's,  that  the  real  Ebenezer  Cooke 
was  in  St.  Mary's  City.  Another  impostor!  What  marvelous  plot,  then,  was 
afoot?  There  was  of  course  the  possibility  that  Burlinganie,  so  clever  at 
disguises,  had  arrived  safely  and  found  it  useful  to  play  the  poet,  the  further 
to  confound  Coode.  But  if  he  had  learned  of  Ebenezer's  capture  from 
passengers  on  the  Poseidon,  as  one  would  suppose,  surely  he  understood 
that  assuming  his  identity  would  jeopardize  his  friend's  life;  and  if  instead 
he  believed  his  ward  and  prot£g6  dead,  it  was  hard  to  imagine  him  having 
the  heart  for  imposture.  No,  more  likely  it  was  Coode  himself  who  was 
responsible.  And  to  what  evil  purpose  would  his  name  be  turned?  Ebenezer 
shuddered  to  think.  He  kicked  off  his  shoes,  the  better  to  stay  afloat;  the 
precious  manuscript  too  he  reluctantly  cast  away,  and  began  treading  water 
as  gently  as  possible  so  as  to  conserve  his  strength. 

But  for  what?  The  hopelessness  of  his  circumstances  began  to  make  itself 
clear.  Already  the  shallop's  lights  were  small  in  the  distance,  obscured  by 
every  wave;  soon  they  would  be  gone  entirely,  and  there  were  no  other 
lights.  For  all  he  knew  he  was  in  mid-Atlantic;  certainly  he  was  scores  of 
miles  from  land,  and  the  odds  against  another  ship's  passing  even  within 
sight  by  daylight  were  so  great  as  to  be  unthinkable.  Moreover,  the  night 
was  young:  there  could  be  no  fewer  than  eight  hours  before  dawn,  and 
though  the  seas  were  not  rough,  he  could  scarcely  hope  to  survive  that 
long. 

"I'faith,  I  am  going  to  die!"  he  exclaimed  to  himself.  "There  is  no  other 
possibility!" 

This  was  a  thing  he  had  often  pondered.  Always,  in  fact— ever  since  his 
boyhood  days  in  St.  Giles,  when  he  and  Anna  played  at  saints  and  Caesars 
or  Henry  read  them  stories  of  the  past— he  had  been  fascinated  by  the  aspect 
of  death.  How  must  the  cutpurse  feel,  or  the  murderer,  when  he  mounts  the 
stairway  to  the  gibbet?  The  falling  climber,  when  he  sees  the  rock  that 
will  dash  out  brains  and  bowels?  In  the  night,  between  their  bedchambers, 
he  and  his  sister  had  examined  eveiy  form  of  death  they  knew  of  and 
compared  their  particular  pains  and  horrors.  They  had  even  experimented 
with  death:  once  they  pressed  the  point  of  a  letter  knife  into  their  breasts  as 
hard  as  they  dared,  but  neither  had  had  the  courage  to  draw  blood;  another 
time  each  had  tried  being  throttled  by  the  other,  to  see  who  could  go  the 
farthest  without  crying  out,  But  the  best  game  of  all  was  to  see  who  could 


[  288  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

hold  his  breath  longer;  to  see,  specifically,  whether  either  was  brave  enough 
to  hold  it  to  the  point  of  unconsciousness.  Neither  had  ever  reached  that 
goal,  but  competition  carried  their  efforts  to  surprising  lengths:  they  would 
grow  mottled,  their  eyes  would  bulge,  their  jaws  clench,  and  finally  would 
come  the  desperate  explosion  of  breath  that  left  them  weak.  There  was  a 
terrible  excitement  about  this  game;  no  other  came  so  close  to  the  feel  of 
death,  especially  if  in  the  last  frantic  moments  one  imagined  himself  buried 
alive,  drowning,  or  otherwise  unable  to  respire  at  will.  That  speculation 
made  one  wild;  the  breath  roared  out.  It  was  a  sport  too  moving,  too  up- 
setting, to  play  often. 

It  is  not  surprising,  therefore,  that  however  unparalleled  in  his  experience, 
Ebenezer's  present  straits  were  by  no  means  novel  to  his  imagination. 
Death  by  drowning  was  a  consideration  intimately  bound  up  with  the 
breath-holding  game,  one  they  had  several  times  explored.  Even  the  details 
of  stepping  from  the  plank  at  night,  clawing  from  the  depths  for  air,  and 
watching  the  stern  lights  slip  away  they  had  considered,  and  Ebenezer  al- 
most knew  ahead  of  time  how  tie  end  would  feel:  water  catching  the 
throat  and  stinging  the  nose,  the  convulsive  coughing  to  expel  it,  and  the 
inevitable  reinspiration  of  air  where  no  air  was,,  the  suck  of  water  into 
the  lungs;  then  vertigo,  the  monstrous  pressure  in  head  and  chest,  and 
worst  of  all  the  frenzy,  the  anxiety  of  the  body  not  to  die,  that  total 
mindless  lust  for  air  which  must  in  the  last  seconds  rend  body  and  soul 
unspeakably.  When  he  and  Anna  chose  their  deaths,  drowning— along  with 
burning,  slow  crushing,  and  similar  protracted  agonies— was  disqualified  at 
once,  and  the  news  that  anyone  had  actually  suffered  such  an  end  would 
thrill  them  to  the  point  of  dizziness.  But  in  his  heart  the  fact  of  death  and 
all  these  senuous  anticipations  were  to  Ebenezer  like  the  facts  of  life  and  the 
facts  of  history  and  geography,  which,  owing  to  his  education  and  natural 
proclivities,  he  looked  at  always  from  the  storyteller's  point  of  view:  notion- 
ally  he  admitted  its  finality;  vicariously  he  sported  with  its  horror;  but  never, 
never  could  he  redly  embrace  either.  That  lives  are  stories,  he  assumed; 
that  stories  end,  he  allowed— how  else  could  one  begin  another?  But  that 

the  storyteller  himself  must  live  a  particular  tale  and  die Unthinkable! 

Unthinkable! 

Even  now,  when  he  saw  not  the  slightest  grounds  for  hope  and  knew 
that  the  dread  two  minutes  must  be  on  him  soon,  his  despair  was  as  notional, 
his  horror  as  vicarious,  as  if  he  were  in  his  chamber  in  St.  Giles  playing  the 
dying-game,  or  acting  out  a  story  in  the  summ^rhouse.  Bertiand,  he  as- 
sumed with  some  envy,  had  strangled  on  his  water  and  was  done  with  it; 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  289  ] 

there  was  no  reason  why  he  himself  should  not  get  it  over  with  at  once. 
But  it  was  not  simply  fear  that  kept  him  paddling;  it  was  also  the  same 
constitutional  deficiency  that  had  made  him  unable  to  draw  his  own  blood, 
will  himself  unconscious,  or  acknowledge  in  his  heart  that  there  really  had 
been  a  Roman  Empire.  The  shallop  was  gone.  Nothing  was  to  be  seen 
except  the  stars,  or  heard  except  the  chuckle  of  water  around  his  neck,  yet 
his  spirit  was  almost  calm. 

Presently  he  heard  a  thrashing  in  the  sea  nearby;  his  heart  pounded. "  Tis 
a  shark!"  he  thought,  and  envied  Bertrand  more  than  ever.  Here  was  some- 
thing that  had  not  occurred  to  him!  Why  had  he  not  drowned  himself  at 
once?  The  thing  splashed  nearer;  another  wave  and  they  were  in  the  same 
trough.  Even  as  Ebenezer  struck  out  in  the  opposite  direction,  his  left  leg 
brushed  against  the  monster. 

"Aief  he  shrieked,  and  "Nay!"  cried  the  other,  equally  alarmed. 

"Dear  God!"  said  Ebenezer,  paddling  back.  "Is't  you,  Bertrand?" 

"Master  Eben!  Praise  be,  I  thought  'twas  a  sea-serpent!  Thou'rt  not 
drowned?" 

They  embraced  each  other  and  came  up  sputtering. 

"Get  on  with't,  or  we  shall  be  yet!"  the  poet  said,  as  happy  as  though  his 
valet  had  brought  a  boat.  Bertrand  observed  that  it  was  but  a  matter  of  time 
after  all,  and  Ebenezer  replied  with  feeling  that  death  was  not  so  terrible 
in  company  as  alone. 

"What  say  you/'  he  proposed,  in  the  same  spirit  wherewith  he  had  used 
to  propose  the  breath-game  to  Anna:  "shall  we  have  done  with't  now,  to- 
gether?" 

"In  any  case  'twill  not  be  many  minutes,"  Bertrand  said.  "My  muscles 
fail  me  already." 

"Look  yonder,  how  the  stars  are  darkened  out."  Ebenezer  pointed  to  a 
lightless  stretch  on  the  western  horizon.  "At  least  we'll  not  need  to  weather 
that  storm." 

"Not  I,  'tis  certain."  The  valet's  breath  came  hard  from  the  exertion  of 
paddling.  "Another  minute  and  I'm  done." 

"Howe'er  you've  injured  me  before,  friend,  I  forgive  you.  We'll  go  to- 
gether." 

"Ere  the  moment  comes,"  Bertrand  panted,  "I've  a  thing  to  say,  sir " 

"Not  sir/"  cried  the  poet.  "Think  you  the  sea  cares  who's  master  and 
man?" 

"—'tis  about  my  gambling  on  the  Poseidon"  Bertrand  continued. 


[  2QO  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"Long  since  forgiven!  You  lost  my  money:  I  pray  you  had  good  use  oft! 
What  need  have  I  of  money  now?" 

"There's  more,  sir.  You  recall  the  Parson  Tubman  offered  odds " 

"Forgiven!  What  more's  to  lose,  when  you  had  plucked  me  clean?" 

But  Bertrand  would  not  be  consoled.  "What  a  wretch  I  felt,  sir!  I 
answered  to  your  name,  ate  at  your  place,  claimed  the  honors  of  your 
post " 

"Speak  no  more  oft!" 

"Methought  Tis  he  should  tumble  Lucy  on  these  sheets,  not  I,  and  then 
I  lost  your  forty  pound  as  well!  And  you,  sir,  in  a  hammock  in  the  fo'c'sle, 
suffering  in  my  place!" 

"  Tis  over  and  done,"  Ebenezer  said  kindly. 

"Hear  me  out,  sir!  When  that  fearful  storm  was  done  and  we  were 
westering,  I  vowed  to  myself  I'd  have  ye  back  that  money  and  more,  to  pay 
ye  for  your  hardship.  The  Parson  had  got  up  a  new  swindle  on  raising  the 
Virginia  Capes,  and  I  took  a  notion  to  woo  Miss  Lucy  privily  to  my  cause. 
Then  we  would  fleece  the  fleecer!" 

"  'Tis  a  charitable  resolve,  but  you'd  naught  to  use  for  stakes " 

"Nor  did  some  others  that  had  been  gulled,"  Bertrand  replied.  "They 
threatened  to  take  a  stick  to  Tubman  for  all  he  was  a  cleric.  But  he  smelled 
what  was  in  the  wind,  and  gave  'em  a  chance  to  bet  again  on  Maryland. 
They'd  but  to  pledge  some  property  or  other " 

"I'faith!"  cried  Ebenezer.  "His  cassock  frocked  a  very  Jew!" 

"He  had  the  papers  drawn  like  any  lawyer:  we'd  but  to  sign,  and  we 
could  wager  to  the  value  of  the  property." 

"You  signed  a  pledge?"  Ebenezer  asked  incredulously. 

"Aye,  sir." 

"Dear  God!  To  what?" 

"To  Maiden,  sir.  I " 

"To  Maiden!"  Such  was  the  poet's  amazement  he  forgot  to  paddle,  and 
the  next  wave  covered  his  head.  When  he  could  speak  again  he  demanded, 
"Yet  surely  'twas  no  more  than  a  pound  or  two?" 

"I  shan't  conceal  it,  sir;  'twas  rather  more." 

"Ten  pounds,  then?  Twenty?  Ha,  out  with't,  fellow!  What's  forty  pounds 
more  to  a  drowning  man?  What  is't  to  me  if  you  lost  a  hundred?" 

"My  very  thought,  sir,"  Bertrand  said  faintly;  his  strength  was  almost 
gone.  "'Twas  e'en  for  that  I  told  ye,  now  we're  drowning  men.  Lookee 
how  the  dark  comes  closer!  Methinks  I  hear  the  sea  rising  yonder,  too, 
but  I  shan't  be  here  to  feel  the  rain.  Farewell,  sir." 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  291  ] 

"Wait!"  Ebenezer  cried,  and  clutched  his  servant  by  one  arm  to  help 
support  him. 

'Tin  done,  sir;  let  me  go/' 

"And  I,  Bertrand;  I  shall  go  with  thee!  Was't  two  hundred  you  lost, 
pray?" 

"  Twas  but  a  pledge,  sir/'  Bertrand  said.  "Who's  to  say  I  lost  a  farthing? 
For  aught  I  know  thou'rt  a  wealthy  man  this  moment." 

"What  did  you  pledge,  man?  Three  hundred  pounds?" 

Bertrand  had  stopped  treading  water  and  would  have  gone  under  had 
not  Ebenezer,  paddling  furiously,  held  him  up  with  one  hand  by  the  shirt 
front. 

"What  doth  it  matter,  sir?  I  pledged  it  all," 

"AZZ/" 

"The  grounds,  the  manor,  the  sot-weed  in  the  storehouse— Tubman  holds 
it  all." 

"Pledged  my  legacy!" 

"Prithee  let  me  drown,  sir,  if  ye  won't  yourself." 

"I  shall!"  said  Ebenezer.  "Sweet  Maiden  gone?  Then  farewell,  and  God 
forgive  you!" 

"Farewell,  sir!" 

"Stay,  I  am  with  thee  yet!"  Master  and  man  embraced  each  other.  "Fare- 
well! Farewell!" 

"Farewell!"  Bertrand  cried  again,  and  they  went  under.  Immediately  both 
fought  free  and  struggled  up  for  air. 

"This  will  not  do!"  Ebenezer  gasped.  "Farewell!" 

"Farewell!"  said  Bertrand.  Again  they  embraced  and  went  under,  and 
again  fought  free. 

"I  cannot  do't,"  said  Bertrand,  "though  my  muscles  scarce  can  move, 
they  bring  me  up."  . 

"Adieu,  then,"  said  the  poet  grimly.  "Thy  confession  gives  me  strength 
to  die  alone.  Farewell!" 

"Farewell!" 

As  before,  Ebenezer  automatically  took  a  deep  breath  before  sinking 
and  so  could  not  do  more  than  put  his  face  under.  This  time,  however, 
his  mind  was  made  up:  he  blew  out  the  air,  bade  the  world  a  last  farewell* 
and  sank  in  earnest. 

A  moment  later  he  was  up  again,  but  for  a  different  reason. 

"The  bottom!  I  felt  the  bottom,  Bertrand!  Tis  not  two  fathom  deep!" 

"Nay!"  gasped  the  valet,  who  had  been  near  submerged  himself.  "How 


[2Q2]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

can  that  be,  in  the  middle  of  the  ocean?  Haply  'twas  a  whale  or  other 
monster." 

"'Twas  hard  sand  bottom!"  Ebenezer  insisted.  He  went  below  again, 
this  time  fearlessly,  and  from  a  depth  of  no  more  than  eight  feet  brought 
up  a  fistful  of  sand  for  proof. 

"Belike  a  shoal,  then,"  Bertrand  said,  unimpressed.  "As  well  forty 
fathom  as  two;  we  can't  stand  up  in  either.  Farewell!" 

"Wait!  Tis  no  cloud  yonder,  man,  but  an  ocean  isle  we've  washed  to! 
Those  are  her  cliffs  that  hide  the  stars;  that  sound  is  the  surf  against  her 
coast!" 

"I  cannot  reach  it." 

"You  can!  'Tis  not  two  hundred  yards  to  shore,  and  less  to  a  standing 
place!"  Fearing  for  his  own  endurance,  he  waited  no  longer  for  his  man 
to  be  persuaded,  but  struck  out  westwards  for  the  starless  sky,  and  soon 
heard  Bertrand  panting  and  splashing  behind.  With  every  stroke  his  con- 
jecture seemed  more  likely;  the  sound  of  gentle  surf  grew  distant  and  rec- 
ognizable, and  the  dark  outline  defined  itself  more  sharply. 

"If  not  an  isle,  at  least  'twill  be  a  rock,"  he  called  over  his  shoulder, 
"and  we  can  wait  for  passing  ships." 

After  a  hundred  yards  they  could  swim  no  farther;  happily,  Ebenezer 
found  that  by  standing  on  tiptoe  he  could  just  clear  the  surface  with  his 
chin. 

'Very  well  for  you,  that  are  so  tall,"  lamented  Bertrand,  "but  I  must 
perish  here  in  sight  of  land!" 

Ebenezer,  however,  would  hear  of  no  such  thing:  he  instructed  the  valet 
to  float  along  behind  him,  hands  on  the  poet's  shoulders  for  support.  It 
was  tedious  going,  especially  for  Ebenezer,  only  the  balk  of  whose  feet 
were  on  the  bottom:  the  weight  behind  pulled  him  off  balance  at  every 
step,  and  though  Bertrand  rode  clear,  his  weight  held  Ebenezer  at  a  con- 
stant depth,  so  that  only  between  waves  could  he  catch  his  breath.  The 
manner  of  their  progress  was  thus:  in  each  trough  Ebenezer  secured  his 
footing  and  drew  a  breath;  when  the  wave  came  he  stroked  with  both  arms 
from  his  breast  and,  with  his  head  under,  rode  perhaps  two  feet— one  of 
which  would  be  lost  in  the  slight  undertow  before  he  regained  his  footing. 
Half  an  hour,  during  which  they  covered  no  more  than  forty  or  fifty  feet, 
was  enough  to  exhaust  his  strength,  but  by  then  the  water  was  just  shallow 
enough  for  the  valet  to  stand  as  well.  It  required  another  thirty  minutes 
to  drag  themselves  over  the  remaining  distance:  had  there  been  breakers 
they  might  yet  have  drowned,  but  the  waves  w^re  never  more  than  two 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [293l 

feet  high,  and  oftener  less  than  one.  At  last  they  reached  a  pebbly  beach 
and,  too  fatigued  for  words,  crawled  on  all  fours  to  the  base  of  the  nearby 
cliff,  where  they  lay  some  while  as  if  a-swoon. 

Presently,  however,  despite  the  mildness  of  the  night  and  the  protection 
provided  by  the  cliff  against  the  westerly  breeze,  they  found  their  resting- 
place  too  cold  for  comfort  and  had  to  search  for  better  shelter  until  their 
clothes  were  dry.  They  made  their  way  northward  along  the  beach  and 
were  fortunate  enough  to  find  not  far  away  a  place  where  the  high  sand- 
stone was  cut  by  a  wooded  ravine  debouching  onto  the  shore.  Here  tall 
wheatlike  weeds  grew  between  the  scrub  pines  and  bayberries;  the  castaways 
curled  together  like  animals  in  a  nest  and  knew  no  more  till  after  dawn. 

It  was  the  sand  fleas  that  roused  them  at  last:  scores  of  sand  fleas  hopped 
and  crawled  all  over  them— attracted,  luckily,  not  by  hunger  but  by  the 
warmth  of  their  bodies— and  tickled  them  awake. 

Ebenezer  jumped  up  and  looked  unbelievingly  about.  "Dear  God!"  he 
laughed.  "I  had  forgot!" 

Bertrand  too  stood  up,  and  the  sand  fleas— not  really  parasites  at  all- 
hopped  madly  in  search  of  cover. 

"And  I,"  he  said,  hoarse  from  exposure.  "I  dreamt  I  was  in  London  with 
my  Betsy.  God  pox  those  vermin  for  waking  me!" 

"But  we're  alive,  at  that.  Tis  more  than  anyone  expected." 

"Thanks  to  you,  sir!"  Bertrand  fell  to  his  knees  before  the  poet.  "'Tis 
a  Catholic  saint  that  saves  the  man  who  ruined  him!" 

"Make  me  no  saint  today,"  Ebenezer  said,  "or  you'll  have  me  a  Jesuit 
tomorrow."  But  he  was  flattered  nonetheless.  "No  doubt  I  had  better 
drowned  when  Father  hears  the  news!" 

Bertrand  clasped  his  hands  together.  "Many's  the  wrong  I've  done  ye, 
sir,  that  I'll  pay  in  Hell  for,  anon— nor  shall  I  want  company  in  the  fire. 
But  I  vow  ye  a  vow  this  instant  I'm  your  slave  fore'er,  to  do  with  as  ye 
will,  and  should  we  e'er  be  rescued  off  this  island  I  shall  give  my  life  to 
gaining  back  your  loss." 

The  Laureate,  embarrassed  by  these  protestations,  replied,  "I  dare  not 
ask  it,  lest  you  pledge  my  soul!"  and  proposed  an  immediate  search  for  food. 
The  day  was  bright,  and  warm  for  mid-September;  they  were  chilled 
through  from  exposure,  and  upon  brushing  the  sand  from  themselves 
found  their  joints  stiff  and  every  muscle  sore  from  the  past  night's  labors. 
But  their  clothes  were  dry  except  for  the  side  on  which  they'd  slept,  and  a 
little  stamping  of  feet  and  swinging  of  arms  was  enough  to  start  the  warm 
blood  coursing.  They  were  without  hats,  wigs,  or  shoes,  but  otherwise  ade- 


[294]  TEDE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

quately  clothed  in  the  sturdy  garb  of  seamen.  Food,  however,  they  had  to 
find,  though  Ebenezer  longed  to  explore  the  island  at  once:  their  stomachs 
rumbled,  and  they  had  not  much  strength.  To  cook  their  meal  was  no 
great  problem:  Bertrand  had  with  him  the  little  tinderbox  he  carried  in 
his  pocket  for  smoking  purposes,  and  though  the  tinder  itself  was  damp, 
the  flint  and  steel  were  as  good  as  new,  and  the  beach  afforded  drift- 
wood and  dry  seaweed.  Finding  something  to  cook  was  another  matter. 
The  woods  no  doubt  abounded  with  small  game;  gulls,  kingfishers,  rails, 
and  sandpipers  soared  and  flitted  along  the  beach;  and  there  were  certainly 
fish  to  be  caught  in  the  shallows;  but  they  had  no  implements  to  hunt  with. 

Bertrand  despaired  afresh.  "  'Tis  a  passing  cruel  prank  fate  plays  us,  to 
trade  a  quick  death  for  a  slow!"  And  despite  his  recent  gratitude,  the  surli- 
ness with  which  he  rejected  various  proposals  for  improvising  weapons  be- 
trayed a  certain  resentment  toward  Ebenezer  for  having  saved  him.  Indeed, 
he  shortly  abandoned  as  hopeless  the  search  for  meaiis  and  went  to  gather 
firewood,  declaring  his  intention  to  starve  at  least  in  relative  comfort.  Eben- 
ezer, left  to  his  own  resources,  resolved  to  walk  some  distance  down  the 
beach,  hoping  to  find  inspiration  along  the  way. 

It  was  a  long  beach.  In  fact,  the  island  appeared  to  be  of  considerable 
size,  for  though  the  shoreline  curved  out  of  sight  in  both  directions,  its 
reappearance  farther  south  suggested  a  cove  or  bay,  perhaps  a  succession 
pf  them;  one  could  not  locate  the  actual  curve  of  the  island's  perimeter. 
Of  its  body  nothing  could  be  seen  except  the  line  of  stratified  cliffs,  caved 
by  the  sea  and  weathered  to  various  browns  and  oranges,  and  the  edge 
trees  of  the  forest  that  ran  back  from  the  precipice— some  with  half  their 
roots  exposed,  some  already  fallen  the  sixty  or  a  hundred  feet  to  the  beach 
and  polished  like  pewter  by  salt  air  and  sand.  If  one  scaled  those  cliffs, 
what  wonders  might  one  see? 

Ebenezer  had  been  at  sea  nearly  half  a  year  in  all,  yet  never  had  he  seen 
it  so  calm.  There  was  no  ground  swell  at  alh  only  catspaws  riffling  here 
and  there,  and  laps  of  waves  not  two  hands  high.  As  he  walked  he  no- 
ticed minnows  darting  in  the  shallows  and  schools  of  white  perch  flipping 
and  rippling  a  few  feet  out.  Crabs,  as  well,  of  a  sort  he  had  never  seen, 
slid  sideways  out  to  safety  as  he  approached;  in  the  water  their  shells  were 
olive  against  the  yellow  sand,  but  the  carapaces  he  found  along  the  beach 
were  cooked  a  reddish-orange  by  the  sun. 

'Would  God  I  had  a  net!" 

Arpund  a  bend  just  past  the  place  where  they  had  crawled  ashore  he 
saw  a  startling  sight— all  along  the  foreshore,  below  the  line  of  weed  and 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  295  1 

driftwood  that  marked  high  tide,  were  sheets  of  white  paper;  others  rolled 
and  curled  in  the  rim  of  the  sea.  The  thought  that  there  might  be  people 
on  the  island  made  his  face  burn,  not  entirely  with  joy— in  fact,  it  was  a 
curious  relief  he  felt,  small  but  undeniable,  when  the  papers  proved  to  be 
the  tale  of  Hicktopeake,  Laughing  King  of  Accomack;  but  he  could  not 
as  yet  say  plainly  what  it  was  that  relieved  him.  He  gathered  all  the  pages 
he  could  find,  though  the  ink  had  run  so  that  only  an  occasional  word 
was  legible;  they  would,  when  dry,  be  good  for  lighting  fires. 

He  started  back  with  them,  thinking  idly  of  John  Smith's  adventures. 
Did  this  curious  pleasure  stem  from  the  fact  that  he,  like  Smith,  was  in 
terra  incognita,  or  was  there  more  to  it?  He  hoped  they  would  find  no 
Indians,  at  least,  like  the  fearsome  fellows  Smith  had  found  spearing  fish 
along  the  shore.  .  .  . 

"  'Sheart!"  he  cried  aloud,  and  kissed  the  wondrous  Journal. 

An  hour  later  their  dinner  was  on  the  fire:  seven  respectable  perch,  half 
a  foot  long  after  cleaning,  roasted  on  a  green  laurel  turnspit,  and  on  a  thin 
piece  of  shale  such  as  could  be  picked  up  anywhere  along  the  cliffs,  four 
crabs,  frankly  an  experiment,  fried  in  their  natural  juices.  The  hard-shelled 
ones  could  not  be  speared,  but  in  pursuit  of  them  Bertrand  had  found 
these  others— similar  in  appearance  but  with  shells  soft  as  Spanish  kid- 
brooding  in  clumps  of  sea-grass  near  the  shore.  Nor  did  they  want  for  water; 
in  a  dozen  places  along  the  base  of  the  cliff  Ebenezer  had  found  natural 
springs  issuing  from  what  looked  like  layers  of  hard  clay,  whence  they  ran 
seawards  across  the  beach  on  the  beds  of  softer  clay  one  encountered  every 
few  hundred  feet.  One  had,  indeed,  to  take  care  in  approaching  these  springs, 
for  the  clay  beds  were  slippery  and  in  places  treacherously  soft,,  as  Ebenezer 
learned:  without  warning  one  could  plunge  knee-deep  into  what  looked 
rock-hard  on  the  surface.  But  the  water  was  clean  and  sweet  from  filtering 
through  the  stone,  and  so  cold  it  stung  the  teeth. 

To  get  full  benefit  of  the  sun  they  did  their  cooking  on  the  beach. 
Bertrand,  humbled  anew  by  his  master's  inspiration,  attended  the  meal;, 
Ebenezer  made  use  of  a  fallen  tree  nearby  for  a  back  rest  and  was  content 
to  chew  upon  a  reed  and  regard  the  sputtering  crabs. 

"Where  do  ye  fancy  we  are?"  inquired  the  valet,  whose  curiosity  had 
returned  with  his  good  spirits. 

"God  knows!"  the  poet  said  cheerfully.  "  'Tis  some  Atlantic  isle,  that's 
sure,  and  belike  not  giv'n  on  the  charts,  else  I  doubt  me  Pound  would 
choose  the  spot  to  plank  us." 


[  296  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

This  conjecture  pleased  the  valet  mightily.  "I  have  heard  tell  of  the 
Fortunate  Islands,  sir;  old  Twigg  at  St.  Giles  was  wont  to  speak  of  'em 
whene'er  her  gout  was  paining." 

"Well  I  recall  it!"  Ebenezer  laughed  "Didn't  I  hear  from  the  cradle 
how  she  stood  watch  all  the  voyage  from  Maryland,  hoping  for  a  sight 
of  them?" 

"Think  ye  this  is  the  place?" 

Tfaith,  'tis  fair  enough,"  the  poet  granted.  "But  the  ocean  swarms  with 
isles  that  man  knows  naught  of.  How  maijy  times  dear  Anna  and  I  have 
pled  with  Burlingame  to  tell  of  them— Grocland,  Helluland,  Stokafixa,  and 
the  rest!  How  many  fond  hours  I've  pored  over  Zeno  the  Venetian,  Peter 
Martyr  d'Anghiera,  and  good  Hakluyt's  books  of  voyages!  E'en  at  Cam- 
bridge, when  I  had  better  done  other  things,  I  spent  whole  evenings  over 
ancient  maps  and  manuscripts.  'Twas  there  at  Magdalene,  in  the  antique 
Book  of  Lismore,  I  saw  described  the  Fortunate  Islands  dear  old  Mrs. 
Twigg  yearned  for,  and  read  how  St.  Brendan  found  them.  'Twas  there 
I  learned  of  Markland,  too,  the  wooded  isle;  and  Frisland  and  Icaria. 
Who  knows  which  this  might  be?  Haply  'tis  Atlantis  risen  from  the  sea, 
or  the  Sunken  Land  of  Buss  old  Frobisher  found;  haply  'tis  Bra,  whose 
women  have  much  pain  in  bearing  children,  or  magic  Daculi,  the  cradle 
island,  where  they  go  for  gentler  labor." 

"It  matters  naught  to  me,"  said  Bertrand,  "so  we  be  not  killed  by  salvages. 
Tis  a  thing  I've  feared  for  since  we  stepped  ashore.  Did  ye  read  what 
manner  of  husbands  the  wenches  have?" 

"I've  shared  your  fear,"  Ebenezer  admitted.  "Some  isles  are  bare  of  men; 
others,  like  famed  Cibola,  boast  wondrous  cities.  Some  are  like  Estotiland, 
whose  folk  are  versed  in  every  art  and  read  from  books  in  Latin;  some 
others  are  like  her  neighbor  Drogio,  where  Zeno  says  the  salvages  eat 
their  captives." 

"Pray  Heav'n  this  is  not  Drogio!" 

"We  shall  climb  to  the  cliff  top  when  we've  eaten,"  Ebenezer  said  "If 
I  can  see  the  island  whole,  I  may  be  able  to  name  it."  He  went  on  to 
explain  that,  while  the  location  and  size  of  islands  varied  widely  from  map 
to  map,  there  was  some  agreement  among  cartographers  as  to  their  shape. 
"If  'tis  in  the  form  of  a  great  crescent,  for  example,  'twill  of  necessity  be 
Mayda;  if  a  small  one,  'tis  doubtless  Tanmare,  that  Peter  Martyr  spoke  of. 
A  large  parallelogram  would  be  Antillia;  a  smaller  one  Salvagio.  A  simple 
rectangle  we  shall  know  for  Ilia  Verde,  and  a  pentagon  for  Reylla.  If  we 
find  this  isle  to  be  a  perfect  circle,  we  must  look  farther  for  its  inland 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  297  ] 

features:  if  'tis  cut  in  twain  by  a  river  we  shall  know  it  for  Brazil,  but  if  in- 
stead 'tis  a  kind  of  ring  or  annulus  about  an  inland  lake,  the  which  hath 
sundry  islets  of  its  own,  then  Heav'n  hath  smiled  on  us  as  ne'er  on  Coro- 
nado,  for  'twill  be  Cibola,  the  Isle  of  the  Seven  Golden  Cities!" 

"  'Sheart,  may  we  find  it  so!"  said  Bertrand,  turning  the  fish  to  brown. 
"Twere  not  like  folk  in  a  golden  city  to  eat  up  strangers,  d'ye  think?" 

"Nay,  'tis  more  likely  they'll  take  us  for  gods  and  grant  our  every 
pleasure,"  Ebenezer  declared.  "Such  was  the  luck  of  stout  Cortez  among 
the  Aztecs,  that  had  a  town  of  gold:  e'en  the  Emperor  Montezuma  bowed 
to  him" 

"Marry,  I  hope  and  pray  'tis  the  Isle  of  Seven  Cities,  then;  I  shall  have 
three  and  you  the  rest,  to  make  up  for  losing  Maiden!  Doth  the  book  say 
aught  of  the  women  in  these  towns,  whether  they  be  fat  or  thin,  or  fair 
of  face?" 

"Naught  that  I  can  recall,"  the  poet  replied. 

"I'God,  let  us  make  short  work  of  these  fish,  sir!"  Bertrand  urged,  sliding 
them  from  the  laurel  spit  to  the  clean-washed  slates  they  had  found  to  eat 
from.  "I  cannot  wait  to  see  my  golden  towns!" 

"Be  not  o'erhasty,  now;  this  may  not  be  Cibola  after  all.  For  aught  we 
know  it  may  lie  in  the  shape  of  a  human  hand,  in  which  case  our  goose 
is  cooked:  Hand-of-Satan  hath  such  a  shape,  and  'tis  one  of  the  InsuLae 
Demonium—the  demons'  isles." 

This  final  possibility  chastened  them  sufficiently  to  do  full  justice  to  the 
perch  and  soft  crabs,  which  they  seasoned  with  hunger,  ate  with  their  fingers, 
and  washed  down  with  clamshellfuls  of  cold  spring  water.  Then  they 
stuffed  an  extra  soft  crab  each  into  their  pockets,  grease  and  all,  and  climbed 
through  the  ravine  to  the  top  of  the  cliff,  whence  to  their  chagrin 
they  could  see  no  more  than  open  water  on  one  side  of  them  and  trees 
on  the  other.  The  sun  was  still  but  forty-five  degrees  above  the  eastern 
horizon;  there  was  time  for  some  hours  of  exploration  before  they  need 
think  of  dinner  and  a  shelter  for  the  night. 

"What  course  do  ye  propose,  sir?"  Bertrand  asked. 

"I  have  a  plan,"  said  Ebenezer.  "But  ere  I  tell  it,  what  course  do  you 
propose?" 

"  Tis  not  for  me  to  say,  sir.  I'll  own  I  have  spoken  out  of  turn  befot^ 
but  that's  behind  me.  Ye  have  saved  my  life  and  forgiven  the  harm  I've 
done  ye;  I'll  dance  to  any  tune  ye  call." 

Ebenezer  acknowledged  the  propriety  of  these  sentiments,  but  took  issue 
with  them  nevertheless.  "We  are  cast  here  on  some  God-forsaken  isle,"  he 


[  298  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

said,  "remote  from  the  world  of  bob-wig  and  dildo.  What  sense  here  hath 
the  title  Poet  Laureate,  or  the  labels  man  and  master?  Thou'rt  one  man, 
I  another,  and  there's  an  end  on't." 

Bertrand  considered  this  for  a  moment.  "I  confess  I  have  my  preferences," 
he  said.  "If  'twere  mine  to  decide,  I'd  strike  out  inland  with  all  haste.  Haply 
we'll  find  one  or  two  golden  cities  ere  dinnertime." 

"We've  no  certain  knowledge  this  is  the  Isle  of  Seven  Cities/'  Ebenezer 
reminded  him,  "nor  do  I  relish  walking  overland  without  shoes.  What  I 
propose  is  that  we  walk  along  the  shore  to  learn  the  length  and  shape  of 
the  island.  Haply  'twill  identify  our  find,  or  show  us  what  manner  of  people 
live  here,  if  any.  Nay,  more,  we've  paper  aplenty  here,  and  charcoal  sticks 
to  mark  with:  we  can  count  our  paces  to  every  turn  and  draw  a  map  as  we 

go" 

"That's  so,"  the  valet  admitted.  "But  'twould  mean  another  meal  of  fish 
and  soft  crabs  and  another  night  upon  the  ground.  If  we  make  haste  in- 
land, haply  'tis  golden  plates  we'll  eat  from,  and  sleep  in  a  golden  bed, 
by  Heav'n!"  His  voice  grew  feverish.  "Just  fancy  us  a  pair  of  bloody  gods, 
sir!  Wouldn't  we  get  us  godlets  on  their  maiden  girls  and  pass  the  plate 
come  Sunday?  Tis  a  better  post  than  Baltimore's  paltry  sainthood, 
b'm'faith!  I'd  not  trade  places  with  the  Pope!" 

"All  that  may  happen  yet,"  Ebenezer  said.  "On  the  other  hand  we 
might  encounter  monsters,  or  salvage  Indians  that  will  eat  us  for  dinner. 
Methinks  'twere  wise  to  scout  around  somewhat,  to  get  the  lay  of  the  land: 
what  do  a  few  days  matter  to  an  immortal  god?" 

The  prudence  of  this  plan  was  undeniable;  reluctant  as  he  was  to  post- 
pone for  even  a  day  the  joys  of  being  a  deity,  Bertrand  had  no  mind  to 
be  a  meal  for  either  cannibals  or  dragons— both  of  whose  existence  he  might 
have  been  skeptical  of  in  London,  but  not  here—and  so  agreed  to  it  readily, 
if  not  enthusiastically.  They  made  their  way  down  to  the  beach  again, 
marked  their  point  of  departure  with  a  stake  to  which  was  tied  a  strip  of 
rag  from  Bertrand's  shirt,  and  struck  out  northward  along  the  shore,  Eben- 
ezer counting  paces  as  they  walked. 

He  had  not  reached  two  hundred  when  Bertrand  caugjit  his  arm. 

"Hark!"  he  whispered.  "Listen  yonder!" 

They  stood  still.  From  behind  a  fallen  tree  not  far  ahead,  a  hackle- 
raising  sound  came  down  on  the  breeze:  it  was  half  a  moan,  half  a  tuneless 
chant,  lugubrious  and  wild, 

"Let  us  flee!"  Bertrand  whispered.  "'Tis  one  of  those  monsters^" 

"Nay,"  Ebenezer  said,  his  skin  a-prickle.  "That  is  no  beast." 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  299  ] 

"A  hungry  salvage,  then;  come  on!" 

The  cry  floated  down  to  them  again. 

"Methinks  'tis  the  sound  of  pain,  not  of  hunger,  Bertrand.  Some  wight 
lies  hurt  by  yonder  log/' 

"God  save  him,  then!"  the  valet  cried.  "If  we  go  near,  his  friends  will 
leap  us  from  behind  and  make  a  meal  of  us." 

"You'll  give  up  your  post  so  lightly?"  Ebenezer  teased,  "What  sort  of 
god  are  you,  that  will  not  aid  his  votaries?" 

A  third  time  came  the  pitiable  sound,  and  though  the  valet  stood  too 
terrified  to  move,  Ebenezer  approached  the  fallen  tree  and  peered  over 
it.  A  naked  black  man  lay  there  on  the  sand,  face  down,  his  wrists  and  ankles 
bound;  his  back  was  striped  with  the  healed  scars  of  many  floggings,  and 
from  myriad  cuts  and  scratches  on  his  legs  he  bled  upon  the  sand.  He  was 
a  tall,  well-muscled  man  in  the  prime  of  life,  but  obviously  exhausted;  his 
skin  was  wet,  and  a  spotty  trail  of  blood  ran  from  where  he  lay  to  the 
water's  edge.  Even  as  Ebenezer  watched  him  from  above,  unobserved,  he 
lifted  his  head  with  a  mighty  effort  and  resumed  the  woeful  incantation, 
chanting  in  a  savage-sounding  tongue. 

"Come  hither!"  the  poet  called  to  Bertrand,  and  scrambled  over  the  log. 
The  Negro  wrenched  over  on  his  side  and  shrank  against  the  tree  trunk, 
regarding  the  newcomer  wildly.  He  was  a  prepossessing  fellow  with  high 
cheekbones  and  forehead,  massive  browbones  over  his  great  white  eyes,  a 
nose  splayed  flat  against  his  face,  and  a  scalp  shaved  nearly  bald  and 
scarified— like  his  cheeks,  forehead,  and  upper  arms— in  strange  designs. 

"God  in  Heaven!"  Bertrand  cried  on  seeing  him.  The  black  man's  eyes 
rolled  in  his  direction.  "  'Tis  a  regular  salvage!" 

"His  hands  are  bound  behind  him,  and  he's  hurt  from  crawling  over  the 
stones." 

"Run,  then!  He'll  ne'er  catch  up  with  us!" 

"On  the  contrary,"  said  the  Laureate,  and  turning  to  the  black  man  he 
said  loudly  and  distinctly,  "Let-me*untie~the-ropes." 

His  answer  was  a  string  of  exotic  gibberish;  the  black  man  clearly  ex- 
pected them  to  kill  him  momently. 

"Nay,  nay,"  Ebenezer  protested. 

"Prithee  do  not  do't,  sir!"  said  Bertrand.  "The  wretch  will  leap  on  ye 
the  minute  he's  free!  Think  ye  these  salvages  know  aught  of  gratitude?" 

Ebenezer  shrugged.  "They  could  know  no  less  oft  than  some  others. 
Hath  he  not  been  thrown,  like  us,  into  the  sea  to  die  and  made  his  way 
by  main  strength  to  this  shore?  I-am4he-Poet-Laureate-of-Maryland"  he 


[  300  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

declared  to  the  black  man;  "I-will-not-harm-you"  To  illustrate  he  bran- 
dished a  stick  as  though  to  strike  with  it,  but  snapped  it  over  his  knee 
instead  and  flung  it  away,  shaking  his  head  and  smiling.  He  pointed  to 
Bertrand  and  himself,  flung  his  arm  cordially  about  the  valet's  shoulders 
and  said  "This-man^nd-I-are-friends.  You"— he  pointed  to  all  three  in  turn 
— "shall-be-our-friend'OS'-well" 

The  man  seemed  still  to  be  fearful,  but  his  eyes  showed  more  suspicion 
now  than  dread.  When  Ebenezer  forcibly  moved  behind  him  to  release 
his  hands  and  Bertrand,  at  his  master's  insistence,  reluctantly  went  to  work 
on  the  ropes  that  bound  his  feet,  the  fellow  whimpered. 

Ebenezer  patted  his  shoulder.  "Have  no  fear,  friend/' 

It  took  some  labor  to  undo  the  ropes,  for  the  knots  were  swollen  from 
the  water  and  pulled  tight  by  the  captive's  exertions. 

"Whose  prisoner  do  ye  take  him  for?"  asked  Bertrand.  "My  guess  is,  he's 
one  of  those  human  sacrifices  ye  told  me  of,  that  the  folk  in  golden  cities 
use  in  lieu  of  money  on  the  Sabbath." 

"That  may  well  be,"  the  poet  agreed.  "His  captors  must  in  sooth  be 
clever  men,  and  no  mere  salvages,  else  they  ne'er  could  make  such  fine 
stout  rope  or  tie  such  wondrous  hitches  in't.  Haply  they  were  ferrying  him 
to  the  slaughter  when  he  escaped;  or  belike  'twas  some  sea-god  he  was 
meant  for.  Confound  these  knots!" 

"In  any  case,"  said  Bertrand,  "'twill  scarcely  please  'em  to  learn  we  set 
him  loose.  'Tis  like  stealing  from  the  collection  plate  in  church." 

"They  need  not  know  oft.  Besides,  we  are  their  rightful  gods,  are  we 
not?  What  we  do  with  our  offerings  is  our  own  affair." 

This  last,  to  be  sure,  he  spoke  in  jest.  They  loosened  the  final  knots  and 
retreated  a  few  paces  for  safety's  sake,  not  certain  what  the  man  would 
do. 

"We'll  run  in  different  directions,"  Ebenezer  said.  "When  he  takes  out 
after  one,  the  other  will  pursue  him  from  behind." 

The  black  shook  off  the  loosened  bonds,  still  looking  warily  about,  and 
rose  with  difficulty  to  his  feet.  Then,  as  if  realizing  that  he  was  free,  he 
stretched  his  limbs,  grinned  mightily,  raised  his  arms  to  the  sun,  and  de- 
livered a  brief  harangue  in  its  direction,  interspersing  his  address  with 
gestures  in  their  direction. 

"Look  at  the  size  of  him!"  Bertrand  marveled.  "Not  e'en  Boabdil  was 
so  made!" 

Ebenezer  frowned  at  mention  of  the  Moor.  "Methinks  he's  speaking  to 
the  sun  now;  belike  'tis  a  prayer  of  thanks." 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  JO1  ] 

"He  is  a  very  percheron  stud!" 

Then,  to  their  considerable  discomfort,  the  fellow  ended  his  speech  and 
turned  to  face  them;  even  took  a  step  towards  them. 

"Run!"  cried  Bertrand. 

But  no  violence  was  offered  them;  instead,  the  black  prostrated  him- 
self at  their  feet  and  with  muttered  reverences  embraced  their  ankles  each 
in  turn;  nor  would  he  rise  when  done,  but  knelt  with  forehead  on  the 
sand. 

"'Sbody,  sir!  What  doth  this  signify?" 

"I  would  not  say  for  certain,"  Ebenezer ,  replied,  "but  it  seems  to  me 
you  have  what  erst  you  wished:  This  wight  hath  bid  his  farewells  to  the 
sun  and  taken  us  for  his  gods," 

And  so  indeed  it  seemed;  the  man  moved  not  a  muscle,  but  remained 
in  his  attitude  of  worship,  clearly  awaiting  his  benefactors'  pleasure. 

"Ffaith,"  the  valet  said  uncomfortably.  "We  did  not  ask  for  this!  What 
in  Heav'n  would  he  have  us  do?" 

"Who  knows?"  the  poet  answered.  "I  never  was  a  god  till  now.  We  gave 
him  his  life,  and  so  he's  ours  to  bless  or  bastinado,  I  suppose."  He  sighed. 
"In  any  case  let's  bid  him  rise  ere  he  takes  a  backache:  no  god  keeps  men 
upon  their  knees  forever." 


17:    THE  LAUREATE  MEETS  THE  ANACOSTIN  KING 
AND  LEARNS  THE  TRUE  NAME  OF  HIS  OCEAN  ISLE 


'ONE  THING  IS  CERTAIN,"  EBENEZER  SAID,  WHEN  THEY  RESUMED  THEIR 

exploration  of  the  beach:  "we  must  demand  obedience  of  this  fellow,  if 
we're  to  be  his  deities.  That  is  the  clearest  common  attribute  of  gods,  for 
one  thing,  and  the  safest  policy  besides:  he  may  slay  the  twain  of  us  if  he 
learns  we're  mortal." 

They  had  raised  the  black  man  up  and  bade  him  wash  his  wounds,  which 
happily  were  no  worse  than  scratches  from  the  shells,  and  had  moreover 
presented  him  with  the  extra  soft  crabs— cold  and  linty  from  their  pockets, 
but  edible  nonetheless— and  stood  by  while  he  made  short  work  of  them. 
Their  charity  provoked  a  fresh  display  of  prostrate  gratitude,  which  acknowl- 
edged, they  had  squatted  with  him  some  while  on  the  sand  and  tried  by 


[  £02  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

words,  gestures,  and  pictures  drawn  with  sticks  to  hold  converse.  What  was 
the  name  of  the  island?  Ebenezer  had  asked  him.  What  was  his  name? 
Where  was  his  town?  Who  had  bound  his  limbs  and  flung  him  into  the 
sea,  and  for  what  cause?  And  Bertrand,  not  to  be  outdone,  had  added 
queries  of  his  own:  How  distant  from  where  they  sat  was  the  first  of  the 
golden  cities?  What  sort  of  false  gods  had  its  citizens,  and  were  the  ladies 
dark  or  fair? 

But  though  the  black  man  had  heard  their  inquiries  with  worshipful 
attention,  his  eyes  had  shown  more  love  than  understanding;  all  they  could 
get  from  him  was  his  name,  which— though  it  was  doubtless  from  no  civi- 
lized tongue  at  all— sounded  variously  to  Ebenezer  like  Drehpunkter, 
Dreipunkter,  Dreckpdchter,  Drogueptcheur,  Droitpacteur,  Drupegre, 
Drfcheporteur,  or  even  Despartidor,  and  to  Bertrand  invariably  like 
Drdkepecker.  For  that  matter  it  may  have  been  not  his  name  at  all  but 
some  savage  call  to  worship,  since  every  time  they  said  the  word  he  made 
a  genuflection. 

"What  shall  we  do  with  him?"  Bertrand  asked.  "He  shows  no  mind  to 
go  about  his  business." 

"So  be't,"  Ebenezer  replied.  "Let  him  help  with  ours,  then.  Tis  readi- 
ness to  take  orders  that  makes  the  subject,  and  readiness  to  give  them  that 
makes  the  lord.  Besides,  if  we  set  him  labors  enough  he  can  plot  us  no 
mischief." 

They  resolved^  therefore,  to  let  the  big  black  man  accompany  them  as 
food-  and  wood-gatherer,  cook,  and  general  factotum;  indeed,  they  were 
given  little  choice,  for  he  clearly  had  no  intention  of  leaving  and  could  if 
angered  have  destroyed  them  both  in  half  a  minute.  The  three  set  out 
northward  once  again,  Ebenezer  and  Bertrand  in  the  lead  and  Drake- 
pecker  a  respectful  pace  or  two  behind.  For  an  hour  or  more  they  trudged 
over  pebbles,  soft  sand,  and  beds  of  red,  blue,  and  egg-white  clay,  always 
with  the  steep  unbroken  cliff-face  on  their  left  and  the  strangely  placid 
ocean  on  their  right;  every  turn  Bertrand  expected  to  discover  a  golden 
city,  but  it  would  reveal  instead  only  a  small  cove  or  other  indentation 
of  the  shoreline,  which  in  the  main  ran  still  directly  north.  Then,  leg  weary 
and  footsore,  they  stopped  to  rest  beneath  the  mouth  of  a  natural  cave 
some  ten  or  twelve  feet  up  on  the  cliff  wall.  The  savage,  to  whom  Ebenezer 
had  entrusted  the  rude  spear  with  which  he'd  caught  their  breakfast,  in- 
dicated by  brandishing  it  and  rubbing  his  stomach  a  desire  to  forage  for 
dinner;  upon  receiving  permission  he  scrambled  like  a  monkey  up  the  rock- 
face  and  disappeared. 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  303  ] 

Bertrand  watched  him  go  and  sighed.  "  Tis  the  last  we'll  see  of  Drake- 
pecker;  and  good  riddance,  says  I." 

"What!"  Ebenezer  smiled.  "Thou'rt  so  soon  tired  of  being  God?" 

The  valet  admitted  that  he  was.  "I  had  rather  do  the  work  myself  than 
lord  it  o'er  so  fearsome  a  wight  as  he.  This  very  minute  he  might  be  plotting 
to  spit  the  twain  of  us  on  his  spear  and  fry  us  up  for's  dinner!" 

"I  think  not,"  said  the  poet.  "He  likes  to  serve  us." 

"Ah,  sir,  no  man  enjoys  his  bondage!  Think  you  there' d  be  a  servant 
in  the  world,  if  each  man  had  his  choice?  Tis  ill  luck,  force,  and  penury 
that  make  some  men  serve  others;  all  three  are  galling  masters." 

"What  then  of  habit,  and  natural  predilection?"  teased  Ebenezer.  "Some 
men  are  born  to  serve." 

Bertrand  considered  these  for  a  moment  and  then  said,  "Habit's  no  first 
cause,  but  a  child  of  bleak  necessity,  is't  not?  Our  legs  grew  calloused  to 
the  pirates'  shackles,  but  we  wished  them  off  us  nonetheless.  As  for  this 
natural  bent  to  slavery,  'tis  a  tale  hatched  by  the  masters:  no  slave  believes 
it." 

"A  moment  past  you  spoke  of  doing  the  chores  thyself,"  Ebenezer  said, 
"but  never  a  word  of  me  doing  them;  yet  'twas  I  proposed  we  forget  our 
former  stations,  since  the  wilderness  knows  naught  of  classes." 

Bertrand  laughed.  "Then  to  my  list  of  yokes  add  obligation;  he's  no  more 
mild  a  master." 

"Call  him  gratitude  or  love  instead,"  said  Ebenezer,  "and  watch  how 
men  rejoice  in  their  indenture!  This  Drakepecker,  as  you  call  him,  chose  his 
present  bondage  when  we  set  him  free  of  a  worse,  and  he  may  end  it  by 
his  own  leave  when  he  lists.  Therefore  I  fear  him  not,  and  look  to  have 
him  serve  us  many  a  day."  He  then  asked  the  valet  how  he  proposed  to 
lord  it  over  an  entire  city  alone,  if  one  subject  shared  between  them  scared 
him  so. 

"'Tis  god  I  want  to  be,  not  king,"  the  valet  said.  "Let  others  give 
and  take  commands,  or  lead  and  put  down  mutinies;  I'll  stock  me  a  temple 
with  food  and  drink  and  sleep  all  morning  in  my  golden  bed!  Ten  young 
priestesses  I'll  have  for  company,  that  shall  hear  confessions  and  say  the 
prayers  in  church,  and  a  brace  of  great  eunuchs  to  take  collection  and 
guard  the  money." 

"Sloth  and  viciousness!" 

"Would  ye  not  do  the  same,  or  any  wight  else?  Who  wants  the  chore 
of  ruling?  'Tis  the  crown  men  lust  for,  not  the  scepter." 

"Who  weto  the  one  must  wield  the  other,"  Ebenezer  answered*  "The 


[  304  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

man  men  bow  to  is  lead  sheep  in  a  running  flock,  that  must  set  their  pace 
or  perish." 

"Ye'll  rule,  then,  in  your  city?"  Bertrand  wanted  to  know. 

"Aye,"  said  Ebenezer.  They  were  sitting  side  by  side,  their  backs  against 
the  cliff,  gazing  idly  out  to  sea.  "And  what  a  government  would  I  establish! 
Twould  be  an  anti-Platonist  republic/' 

"I  .should  hope,  sir!  What  need  have  you  of  the  Pope,  when  thou'rt  the 
god?" 

"Nay,  Bertrand.  This  Plato  spoke  of  a  nation  ruled  by  philosophers,  to 
which  no  poets  might  be  admitted  save  those  that  sing  the  praises  of  the 
government.  There  is  an  antique  quarrel  'twixt  poet  and  sage." 

"Marry,  as  for  that,"  Bertrand  said,  "'tis  little  different  from  England 
or  any  place  else;  no  prudent  king  would  let  a  poet  attack  him.  Why  did 
Lord  Baltimore  employ  ye,  if  not  to  sing  the  praises  of  his  government, 
or  John  Coode  work  your  ruin,  if  not  to  squelch  the  poem?  Why,  this 
wondrous  place  ye  speak  of  could  as  well  be  Maryland!" 

"You  miss  my  point,"  Ebenezer  said  uncomfortably.  "To  forbid  a  sub- 
ject for  verse  is  one  thing;  to  prescribe,  another.  In  my  town  philosophers 
will  all  be  welcome—  so  long  as  they  do  not  start  insurrections—  but  a  poet 
shall  be  their  god,  and  a  poet  their  king,  and  poets  all  their  councillors: 
'twill  be  a  poetacracyl  Methinks  'twas  this  Sir  William  Davenant  had  in's 
mind,  what  time  he  sailed  in  vain  to  govern  Maryland.  The  poet-king, 
Bertrand-'tis  a  thought  to  conjure  with!  Nor  fc't  folly,  I  swear:  who  better 
reads  the  hearts  of  men,  philosopher  or  poet?  Which  is  in  closer  harmony 
with  the  world?"  . 

He  had  more  to  say  to  Bertrand  on  the  subject,  which  had  been  stewing 
all  the  morning  in  his  fancy,  but  at  this  instant  a  pair  of  savages  fell, 
as  it  were,  out  of  the  blue  and  stood  before  them,  spears  in  hand.  They 
were  half-grown  boys,  no  more  than  ten  or  twelve  years  old,  dressed  in 
matchcoats  and  deerskin  trousers;  their  skin  was  not  brown-black  like  Drake- 
pecker  g  but  copper-brown,  the  color  of  the  cliffs,  and  their  hair,  so  far  from 
being  short  and  woolly,  fell  straight  and  black  below  their  shoulders  They 
put  on  the  fiercest  look  they  could  manage  and  aimed  their  spears  at  the 
white  men.  Bertrand  shrieked.  - 

"  'Sheartr  cried  Ebenezer,  and  raised  his  arms  to  protect  his  face.  "Drake- 
pecker!  Where  is  Drakepecker!" 

-  hath  undone  usr  Bertrand  wailed-  <<llie  mGicl*  hath 


us 


But  it  was  unthinkable  that  the  boys  had  leaped  from  the  cliff-top,  and 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  305  ] 

unlikely  that  they  had  climbed  down  without  making  a  sound  or  dislodging 
a  pebble.  It  seemed  probable  to  Ebenezer  that  they  had  been  hiding  in 
the  cave,  above  their  heads,  waiting  their  chance  to  jump.  One  of  them 
addressed  the  prisoners  sharply  in  an  unknown  tongue,  signaling  them  to 
rise,  and  pointed  to  the  mouth  of  the  cave. 

"Must  we  climb  up?"  asked  Ebenezer,  and  for  answer  felt  a  spear  point 
prick  his  ham. 

"Tell  them  we're  gods!"  Bertrand  urged.  "They  mean  to  eat  us  alive!" 

The  command  was  repeated;  they  scrambled  up  the  rocks  to  the  lip  of 
the  cave.  The  boys  chattered  as  though  to  someone  inside,  and  from  the 
shadow  an  older,  calmer  voice  answered.  The  prisoners  were  forced  to  enter 
—bent  over,  since  the  roof  was  never  more  than  five  feet  high.  The  inside 
stank  of  excrement  and  other  unnameable  odors.  After  a  few  moments, 
when  their  eyes  grew  accustomed  to  the  dark,  they  saw  a  full-grown 
savage  lying  naked  on  a  blanket  on  the  floor,  which  was  littered  with  shells, 
bones,  and  crockery  pots.  At  least  part  of  the  stench  came  from  his 
right  knee,  wrapped  in  ragged  bandages.  He  raised  himself  on  his  elbows, 
wincing,  and  scrutinized  the  prisoners.  Then,  to  their  unspeakable  sur- 
prise, he  said  "English?" 

"FGod!"  Ebenezer  gasped.  "Who  are  you,  sir,  that  you  speak  our 
tongue?" 

The  savage  considered  again  their  matted  hair,  torn  clothing,  and  bare 
feet.  "You  seek  Quassapelagh?  Did  Warren  send  you  for  Quassapelagh?" 
The  boys  moved  closer  with  their  spears. 

"We  seek  no  one,"  the  poet  said,  clearly  and  loudly.  "We  are  Englishmen, 
thrown  into  the  sea  by  pirates  to  drown;  we  reached  this  isle  last  night, 
by  great  good  fortune,  but  we  know  not  where  we  are." 

One  of  the  boys  spoke  excitedly  and  brandished  his  spear,  eager  to  have 
at  them,  but  the  older  man  silenced  him  with  a  word. 

"Prithee  spare  us,"  Ebenezer  pleaded.  "We  do  not  know  this  Warren 
that  you  speak  ofr  or  any  soul  else  hereabouts." 

Again  the  youths  made  as  if  to  run  them  through.  The  injured  savage 
rebuked  them  more  sharply  than  before  and  apparently  ordered  them  to 
stand  guard  outside,  for  they  evacuated  the  clammy  cave  with  some  show 
of  reluctance. 

"They  are  good  boys,"  the  savage  said.  "They  hate  the  English  as  much 
as  I,  and  wish  to  kill  you." 

"Then  there  are  English  on  this  island?  What  is  the  name  oft?"  Bertrand 
was  still  too  frightened  to  speak,  but  Ebenezer,  despite  his  recent  daydreams 


[  306  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

of  a  poet's  island,  could  not  contain  his  joy  at  the  prospect  of  rejoining 
his  countrymen. 

The  savage  regarded  him  narrowly.  "You  do  not  know  where  you  are?" 

"Only  that  'tis  an  ocean  isle/7  the  Laureate  replied. 

"And  you  know  not  the  name  of  Quassapelagh,  the  Anacostin  King?" 

"Nay." 

For  some  moments  their  captor  continued  to  search  their  faces.  Then, 
as  though  persuaded  of  their  innocence,  he  lay  back  on  the  pallet  and 
stared  at  the  roof  of  the  cave. 

"I  am  Quassapelagh,"  he  declared.  "The  Anacostin  King." 

"KingF  Bertrand  exclaimed  in  a  whisper  to  Ebenezer.  "D'ye  think 
he's  king  of  one  of  our  golden  towns?" 

"This  is  the  land  of  the  Piscataways,"  Quassapelagh  went  on.  "These 
are  the  fields  and  forests  of  the  Piscataways.  That  water  is  the  water  of 
the  Piscataways;  these  cliffs  are  our  cliffs.  They  have  belonged  to  the  Pis- 
cataways since  the  beginning  of  the  world.  My  father  was  a  king  in  this 
land,  and  his  father,  and  his  father;  and  so  for  a  time  was  I.  But  Quassapel- 
agh is  king  no  more,  nor  will  my  sons  and  grandsons  rule." 

"Ask  him  which  way  to  the  nearest  golden  town,"  Bertrand  whispered, 
but  his  master  gestured  him  to  silence. 

<r\Vhy  do  you  lie  here  in  this  miserable  den?"  Ebenezer  asked  "  'Tis 
no  fit  dwelling  for  a  king,  methinks." 

"This  country  is  Quassapelagh's  no  more,"  the  King  replied.  "Your 
people  have  stolen  it  away.  They  came  in  ships,  with  sword  and  cannon, 
and  took  the  fields  and  forests  from  my  father.  They  have  herded  us  like 
animals  and  driven  us  off.  And  when  I  said,  'This  land  belongs  to  the 
Piscataways,'  they  turned  me  into  prison.  Our  emperor,  Ochotomaquath, 
must  hide  like  an  animal  in  the  hills,  and  in  his  place  sits  a  young  whelp 
Passop,  that  licketh  the  English  emperor's  boots.  My  people  must  do  his 
bidding  or  starve." 

"Injustice!"  Ebenezer  cried.  "Did  you  hear,  Bertrand?  Who  is  this  War- 
ren that  so  presumes,  and  makes  me  feel  shame  to  be  an  Englishman? 
Some  rogue  of  a  pirate,  I'll  wager,  that  hath  claimed  the  island  for  his  own. 
1'faith!"  He  clutched  at  the  valet's  sleeve.  "I  recall  old  Carl,  the  sailmaker, 
spoke  of  a  pirate  town  called  Libertatia,  on  the  Isle  of  Madagascar;  pray 
God 'tis  not  the  same!" 

"I  know  not  the  Emperor's  name,"  Quassapelagh  said,  "for  he  hath  but 
ktely  come  to  oppress  my  nation.  This  Warren  is  but  a  jailer  and  chief 
of  soldiers " 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  307  ] 

At  this  moment  a  great  commotion  began  outside  the  cave. 

"Drakepecker!"  Bertrand  cried. 

There  at  the  cave's  mouth  the  great  black  stood  indeed:  at  his  feet, 
dropped  in  anger,  lay  the  rude  spear  improvised  by  Ebenezer,  on  which 
two  bloody  rabbits  were  impaled,  and  in  each  great  hand  he  held  a  young 
sentry  by  the  neck.  One  he  had  already  by  some  means  disarmed,  and 
before  the  other  could  use  his  weapon  to  advantage,  the  fearsome  Negro 
cracked  their  heads  together  and  flung  them  to  the  beach  below. 

"Bravo!"  Ebenezer  cheered. 

"In  here,  Drakepecker!"  Bertrand  called,  and  leaped  to  pinion  Quassa- 
pelagh.  "Come  hither  and  crack  this  rascal's  head  as  well!" 

The  Negro  snatched  up  his  spear  and  charged  into  the  cave  with  a  roar, 
plainly  intending  to  add  Quassapelagh  to  his  other  trophies. 

"Stay!  Drakepecker!"  Ebenezer  commanded. 

"Stick  him!"  shouted  Bertrand,  holding  Quassapelagh's  arms  from  be- 
hind. The  savage  offered  no  resistance,  but  regarded  the  intruder  with  stern 
contempt. 

"I  forbid  it!"  said  Ebenezer,  and  grasped  the  spear. 

Bertrand  protested:  "  'Tis  what  the  wretch  designed  for  us,  sir!" 

"If  so,  he  showed  no  sign  oft.  Release  him."  When  his  arms  were  free 
Quassapelagh  lay  back  on  the  blanket  and  stared  impassively  at  the  ceiling. 
"Those  young  boys  were  his  sons,"  Ebenezer  said.  "Go  with  Drakepecker 
and  fetch  them  here,  if  he  hath  not  killed  them."  The  two  men  went, 
Bertrand  ^th  considerable  misgivings  which  he  did  not  hesitate  to  give 
voice  to,  and  Ebenezer  said  to  Quassapelagh,  "Forgive  my  man  for  in- 
juring your  sons;  he  thought  we  were  in  peril.  We  mean  you  no  harm  at 
all,  sir.  You  have  suffered  enough  at  English  hands." 

But  the  savage  remained  impassive.  "Shall  I  rejoice  to  find  an  English- 
man with  mercy?"  He  pointed  to  his  evil-smelling  knee.  "Which  is  more 
merciful,  a  spear  in  the  heart  or  this  poisoned  knee,  that  I  cut  while  flee- 
ing like  a  rabbit  in  the  night?  If  my  sons  are  dead,  I  starve;  if  they  live 
I  die  of  this  poison.  Your  heart  is  good:  I  ask  you  to  kill  Quassapelagh." 

Presently  Bertrand  and  the  Negro  returned,  marching  at  the  points  of 
their  spears  the  two  young  boys,  who  seemed  to  be  suffering  only  from 
bruises  and  sore  heads. 

"It  is  enough  that  my  sons  live,"  Quassapelagh  said.  "Tell  your  man  to 
kill  me  now." 

"Nay,  I've  better  work  for  him,"  Ebenezer  said,  and  to  Bertrand  he 
declared,  "Drakepecker  will  remain  here  with  the  king  and  mind  his  wants 


[  208  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

while  we  sound  the  temper  of  these  English  bandits.  The  boys  can  lead  us 
to  the  outskirts  of  their  settlement." 

"Tis  not  mine  to  argue/'  Bertiand  sighed.  "I  only  hope  they've  not 
snatched  all  the  golden  towns  and  set  themselves  up  as  gods/' 

Ebenezer  then  made  clear  to  the  Negro,  by  means  of  signs,  that  he 
wished  him  to  feed  the  King  and  dress  the  infected  knee;  to  the  latter  item, 
presented  more  as  a  query  than  a  command,  the  black  man  responded 
with  bright  affirmative  nods  and  an  enthusiastic  chatter  that  suggested 
acquaintance  with  some  prophylactic  or  therapeutic  measures.  Without 
more  ado  he  removed  the  dirty  dressing  and  examined  the  malodorous  in- 
flammation with  a  clearly  chirurgical  interest.  Then,  in  his  own  tongue, 
accompanying  his  orders  with  enough  gesticulation  for  clarity,  he  directed 
one  of  the  boys  to  clean  and  cook  the  rabbits  and  sent  the  other  to  fetch 
two  crockery  pots  of  water. 

"  'Sheart!"  Bertiand  said  respectfully.  "The  wighf  s  a  physician  as  well! 
Tis  an  honor  to  be  his  god,  is't  not,  sir?" 

The  poet  smiled.  "Haply  he  merits  a  better,  Bertrand;  he  is  in  sooth  a 
masterly  creation." 

Before  two  hours  had  elapsed,  the  rabbits  were  cooked  and  eaten—along 
with  raw  oysters  provided  by  the  youths  and  a  kind  of  parched  and  pow- 
dered corn  called  rockahominy,  of  which  the  King  had  a  large  jarful— and 
Quassapelagh's  wound  had  been  lanced  with  his  own  knife,  drained  of  pus, 
washed  clean,  and  dressed  with  some  decoction  brewed  by  the  Negro  out 
of  various  roots  and  herbs  which  he  had  gathered  up  in  the  woods  while 
the  rabbits  were  roasting.  Even  the  savages  were  impressed  by  the  perform- 
ance: the  boys  fingered  their  lumps  with  more  of  awe  than  of  resentment, 
and  Quassapelagh's  hard  eyes  shone. 

"If  the  English  are  not  far  distant,  I  should  like  to  have  a  look  at  them 
ere  dark,"  the  Laureate  announced.  When  Quassapelagh  replied  that  they 
were  not  above  three  miles  away,  he  repeated  his  orders  to  the  Negro, 
who,  kneeling  as  usual  at  the  sound  of  his  name,  acquiesced  tearfully  to 
the  separation. 

"If  we  find  them  to  be  pirates  or  highwaymen,  we'll  return  a  once/' 
Ebenezer  told  the  King. 

^  "The  Emperor  of  the  English  will  not  harm  you,"  Quassapelagh  said, 
"nor  need  you  fear  for  my  sons,  who  are  unknown  to  him.  But  speak  not 
the  name  of  the  Anacostin  King  to  any  man  unless  you  wish  me  dead,  and 
do  not  return  to  this  cave.  Your  kindness  to  Quassapelagh  will  not  be  for- 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  309  ] 

gotten."  He  spoke  in  the  native  tongue  to  one  of  the  boys,  who  fetched 
him  a  small  leather  packet  from  the  rear  of  the  cave. 

"  Tis  a  map  of  the  Seven  Cities  he  means  to  show  us!"  Bertrand  whis- 
pered. 

"Take  these/'  said  the  King,  and  gave  to  each  of  the  men  a  small  amulet, 
carved,  it  appeared,  from  the  vertebra  of  a  relatively  large  fish— a  hollow, 
watery-white  cylinder  of  bone  perhaps  three  quarters  of  an  inch  in  width 
and  half  that  in  diameter,  with  small  projections  where  the  dorsal  and 
ventral  ribs  had  been  cut  off  and  the  near-translucence  characteristic  of  the 
bones  of  fish.  Bertrand's  face  fell.  "It  seems  a  small  repayment  for  my 
life,"  Quassapelagh  said  sternly,  "but  it  was  for  one  of  these  that  Warren 
turned  me  free." 

"This  Warren  is  a  fool,"  grumbled  Bertrand. 

The  King  ignored  him.  "Wear  it  as  a  ring  upon  your  finger,"  he  told 
Ebenezer.  "One  day  when  beath  is  very  close,  this  ring  may  turn  him 
away." 

Ebenezer  too  was  somewhat  disappointed  by  the  present,  the  rude  carv- 
ings of  which  could  not  even  be  called  decorative,  but  he  accepted  it  politely 
and,  since  the  outside  diameter  was  too  large  for  comfort,  strung  it  upon 
a  thin  rawhide  thong  and  wore  it  around  his  neck,  under  his  shirt.  Bertrand, 
on  the  other  hand,  stuffed  his  ungraciously  into  a  pocket  of  his  trousers. 
Then,,  it  being  already  late  in  the  afternoon  and  the  beach  in  shadow 
from  the  cliffs,  they  bade  warm  good-byes  to  the  big  Negro  and  Quassape- 
lagh and,  with  the  savage  boys  as  guides  ascended  to  the  forest  and  struck 
out  more  or  less  northwestward,  moving  slowly  because  of  their  bare  feet. 

"Thou'rt  not  o'erjoyed  at  traveling  to  our  countrymen,"  Ebenezer  ob- 
served to  Bertrand. 

"I'm  not  o'erjoyed  at  walking  into  a  pirates'  nest,  when  we  could  as 
lightly  search  for  golden  towns,"  the  valet  admitted.  "Nor  did  we  drive 
a  happy  bargain  with  that  salvage  king,  to  trade  Drakepecker  for  a  pair 
of  fishbones." 

"  'Twas  not  a  trade,  nor  yet  a  gift/'  the  poet  said.  "If  he  was  obliged 
to  us  for  his  life,  then  saving  ours  discharged  his  obligation." 

But  Bertrand  was  not  so  easily  mollified. 

"  'Sbody,  sir,  I  mean  nor  selfishness  nor  blasphemy,  but  'tis  precious  rare 
a  valet 'gets  to  be  a  god!  Yet  I'd  scarce  commenced  to  take  the  measure 
of  the  office,  as't  were,  and  get  the  hang  oft,  ere  ye  trade  off  my  parishioner 
for  a  pitiful  pair  of  fishbones!  I  wanted  but  another  day  or  two  to  god  it 
about,  don't  ye  know,  ere  we  turned  old  Drakepecker  loose." 


[  J1O  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"Not  I,"  the  Laureate  said.  "'Tis  a  post  I  feel  well  quit  of.  We  found 
him  cast  up  helpless  from  the  sea  and  left  him  helpful  in  a  cave;  he  hath 
been  slave  to  a  god  and  now  is  servant  to  a  king.  Whither  he  goes  thence 
is  his  own  affair.  We  twain  did  well  to  start  him  on  his  journey— is  that 
not  godding  it  enough?  Besides  which/'  he  concluded,  "you  had  not  the 
chore  of  keeping  him  occupied,  as  I  did,  or  you'd  not  complain;  I  was 
pleased  to  find  that  work  to  set  him  to.  If  we  reach  our  golden  cities,  my 
own  shall  be  republican,  not  theocratic,  nor  have  I  any  wish  to  be  its  ruler. 
That  much  Drakepecker  hath  taught  me." 

Bertrand  smiled.  "Ye've  been  not  long  a  master,  thus  to  speak,  sir!  D'ye 
think  I  mean  to  fill  my  head  with  dogmas  and  decretals,  once  I'm  in  my 
temple?  That  is  the  work  of  the  lesser  fry — priests  and  clerks  and  all  that 
ilk.  A  god  doth  naught  but  sit  and  sniff  the  incense,  count  his  money, 
and  take  his  pick  o'  the  wenches." 

"Methinks  your  reign  in  Heaven  shan't  be  long,"  Ebenezer  observed. 

"Nor  doth  it  need  be,"  said  his  valet. 

After  a  while  the  woods  thinned  out,  and  to  westward,  through  the  trees, 
they  saw  a  cleared  field  of  considerable  size  in  which  grew  orderly  green 
rows  of  an  unfamiliar  broad-leaved  plant.  Ebenezer's  heart  leaped  at  the 
sight 

"Look  yonder,  Bertrand!  That  is  no  salvage  crop!"  He  laid  hold  of  one 
of  their  guides  and  pointed  to  the  field.  "What  do  you  call  that?"  he 
demanded  loudly,  as  if  to  achieve  communication  by  volume.  "What  is 
the  name  of  that?  Did  the  English  plant  that  field?" 

The  boy  caught  up  the  word  happily  and  nodded.  "English.  English." 
Then  he  launched  into  some  further  observation,  in  the  course  of  which 
Ebenezer  heard  the  word  tobacco. 

"Tobacco?"  he  inquired.  "That  is  tobacco?" 

"How  can  that  be?"  Bertrand  wondered, 

"Tis  not  so  strange,  after  all,"  said  tte  Laureate.  "Captain  Pound  was 
wont  to  sail  the  latitude  of  the  Azores,  that  ran  to  the  Virginia  Capes, 
and  any  isle  along  that  parallel  would  have  Virginia's  climate,  would  it 
not?" 

Bertrand  then  demanded  to  know  why  a  band  of  pirates  would  waste 
their  time  on  agriculture. 

"We  have  no  proof  they're  pirates,"  Ebenezer  reminded  him.  They  could 
as  well  be  sot-weed  smugglers,  of  which  Henry  Burlingame  declares  there 
are  a  great  number,  or  simply  honest  planters.  Tis  a  thing  to  hope  for 
is'tnot?" 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  31 1  ] 

A  contrary  sentiment  showed  in  Bertrand's  face,  but  before  he  had  a 
chance  to  voice  it  the  two  boys  motioned  them  to  silence.  The  four  moved 
stealthily  through  a  final  grove  of  trees  to  where  the  forest  ended  at  a 
riverbank  on  the  north  and  a  roadway  paved  with  bare  logs  on  the  west. 
Sounds  of  activity  came  to  them  from  a  large  log  structure  like  a  store- 
house, obviously  the  work  of  white  men,  that  ran  from  the  roadside  back 
into  the  trees;  at  their  guide's  direction  they  crept  up  to  the  rear  wall,,  from 
which  point  of  vantage,  their  hearts  in  their  mouths,  they  could  safely  peer 
down  the  road  toward  the  river. 

"I'God!"  Ebenezer  whispered.  The  noise  they  had  heard,  a  rumbling 
and  chanting,  was  made  by  several  teams  of  three  Negroes  each,  who,  bare- 
footed and  naked  to  the  waist,  were  rolling  enormous  wooden  hogsheads 
over  the  road  down  to  a  landing  at  the  river's  edge  and  singing  as  they 
worked.  On  a  pier  that  ran  out  from  the  shore  was  a  group  of  bareheaded, 
shoeless  men  dressed  in  bleached  and  tattered  Scotch  cloth,  who  despite 
their  sunburnt  faces  and  generally  uncouth  appearance  was  plainly  of 
European  and  not  barbaric'  origin;  they  were  engaged  in  nothing  more 
strenuous  than  leaning  against  the  pilings,  smoking  pipes,  passing  round 
a  crockery  jug  (after  each  drink  from  which  they  wiped  their  mouths  on 
the  tops  of  their  hairy  forearms),  and  watching  the  Negroes  wrestle  their 
burdens  into  a  pair  of  lighters  moored  alongside.  At  sight  of  them  Ebenezer 
rejoiced,  but  more  marvelous  still—so  marvelous  that  the  beholding  of  it 
brought  tears  to  his  eyes— out  in  mid-channel  of  the  broad  river,  which 
must  have  been  nearly  two  miles  wide  at  that  point,  a  stately,  high-pooped, 
three-masted  vessel  rode  at  anchor,  loading  cargo  from  the  lighters,  and 
from  her  maintop  hung  folds  of  red,  white,  and  blue  that  could  be  no 
other  banner  but  the  King's  colors. 

"These  are  no  brigands,  but  honest  English  planters!"  Ebenezer  laughed. 
"  Tis  some  island  of  the  Indies  we  have  hit  on!"  And  for  all  the  others 
warned  him  to  be  silent,  he  cried  out  for  joy,  burst  out  onto  the  roadway, 
and  ran  whooping  and  hallooing  to  the  wharf.  The  young  savages  fled  into 
the  forest;  Bertrand,  filled  with  gloom  and  consternation,  lingered  by  the 
warehouse  wall  to  watch. 

"Countrymen!  Countrymen!"  Ebenezer  called.  The  Negroes  stopped 
their  song  and  left  their  labors  to  see  him  go  by,  and  the  white  men  too 
turned  round  in  surprise  at  the  outcry.  It  was  indeed  a  most  uncommon 
spectacle:  even  thinner  than  usual  from  the  rigors  of  his  months  on  ship- 
board, Ebenezer  bounded  down  the  log  road  like  a  shaggy  stork.  His  feet 
were  bare  and  blistered,  his  shirt  and  breeches  shred  to  rags;  bald  and  beard- 


[  312  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOIt 

less  at  the  time  of  his  abduction  from  the  Poseidon,  he  had  let  his  hair 
grow  wild  from  scalp  and  chin  alike,  so  that  now,  though  still  of  no  great 
length,  it  was  entirely  matted  and  ungroomed.  Add  to  this,  he  was  more 
sunburnt  than  the  planters  and  at  least  as  dirty,  the  very  picture  of  a  casta- 
way, and  his  haste  was  made  the  more  grotesque  by  the  way  he  clutched 
both  arms  across  his  shirt  front,  wherein  he  carried  still  the  curling  pages 
of  the  Journal. 

"Countrymen!"  he  cried  again  upon  reaching  the  landing.  "Say  some- 
thing quickly,,  that  I  may  hear  what  tongue  you  speak!" 

The  men  exchanged  glances;  some  shifted  their  positions,  and  others 
sucked  uneasily  on  their  pipes. 

"He  is  a  madman/'  one  suggested,  and  before  he  could  retreat  found 
himself  embraced. 

"Thou'rt  English!  Dear  God,  thou'rt  English!" 

"Back  off,  there!" 

Ebenezer  pointed  jubilantly  seawards.  "Where  is  that  vessel  bound,  sir, 
as  thou'rt  a  Christian  Englishman?*' 

"For  Portsmouth,  with  the  fleet " 

"Praise  Heav'n!"  He  leaped  and  clapped  his  hands  and  called  back  to 
the  warehouse,  "Bertrand!  Bertrandl  They're  honest  English  gentlemen  all! 
Hither,  Bertrand!  And  prithee,  wondrous  Englishman,"  he  said,  and  laid 
hold  of  another  planter  who,  owing  to  the  water  at  his  back,  could  not 
escape,  "what  isle  is  this  I  have  been  washed  to?  Is't  Barbados,  or  the  far 
Antilles?" 

"Thy  brains  are  pickled  with  rum/'  growled  the  planter,  shaking  free. 

'The  Bermoothes,  then!"  Ebenezer  cried.  He  fell  to  his  knees  and 
clutched  the  fellow's  trouser  legs.  "Tell  me  'tis  Corvo,  or  some  isle  I  have 
not  heard  of!" 

«/"TiS  n0t  ^  °ne  P°r  fte  other>  nor  an?  isle  else>"  ^  Pinter  said. 
"'Tis  but  poor  shitten  Maryland,  damn  your  eyes," 


18:    THE  LAUREATE  PAYS  HIS  FARE  TO  CROSS  A  RIVER 


"MARYLAND!"  EBENEZER  RELEASED  ms  VICTIM'S  TROUSERS  AND  LOOKED 
back  toward  the  woods  he'd  emerged  from,  at  the  fields  of  green  tobacco 
and  the  Negroes  grinning  broadly  beside  their  hogsheads.  His  face  lit  up. 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  313  ] 

Still  kneeling,  as  though  transfixed,  he  laid  his  right  hand  over  his  heart 
and  raised  his  left  to  the  gently  rolling  hills,  behind  which  the  sun  was 
just  descending.  "Smile,  ye  gracious  hills  and  sunlit  trees!"  he  commanded. 
"Thine  own  sweet  singer,  thy  Laureate,  is  come  to  noise  thy  glory!" 

This  was  a  disembarkation-piece  he  had  composed  aboard  the  Poseidon 
some  months  before,  deeming  it  fit  that  as  Laureate  of  Maryland  he 
should  salute  his  bailiwick  poetically  upon  first  setting  foot  on  it,  and  in- 
tending also  to  leave  no  question  among  his  new  compatriots  that  he  was 
poet  to  the  bone.  He  was  therefore  not  a  little  piqued  to  see  his  initial 
public  declamation  received  with  great  hilarity  by  his  audience,  who  guf- 
fawed and  snorted,  smacked  their  thighs  and  held  their  sides,  wet  their 
noses  and  elbowed  their  neighbors,  and  pointed  horny  fingers  at  Ebenezer, 
and  broke  wind  in  their  uncouth  breeches. 

The  Laureate  let  go  his  pose,  rose  to  his  feet,  arched  his  great  blond 
eyebrows,  pursed  his  lips,  and  said,  "I'll  cast  you  no  more  pearls,,  my  friends. 
Have  a  care,  or  I'll  see  thy  masters  birch  you  one  and  all."  He  turned 
his  back  on  them  and  hurried  to  the  foot  of  the  landing,  where  Bertrand 
stood  uncomfortably  under  the  scrutiny  of  several  delighted  Negroes. 

"Put  by  your  dream  of  seven  cities,  Bertrand:  you  stand  upon  the  blessed 
soil  of  Maryland!" 

"I  heard  as  much,"  the  valet  said  sourly. 

"Is't  not  a  paradise?  Look  yonder,  how  the  sunset  fires  those  trees!" 

"Yet  your  fellow  Marylanders  would  win  no  place  at  Court,  I  think." 

"Nay,  who  shall  blame  them  for  their  disrespect?"  Ebenezer  looked  down 
at  his  own  garb  and  Bertrand's,  and  laughed.  "What  man  could  see  a 
Laureate  Poet  here?  Besides,  they're  only  simple  servants." 

"  Tis  an  idle  master  lets  'ern  drink  their  afternoons,  then,"  Bertrand 
said  skeptically.  "I  cannot  blame  Quassapelagh " 

"La!"  the  poet  warned.  "Speak  not  his  name!" 

"I  merely  meant,  I  see  his  point  of  view." 

"Only  think!"  Ebenezer  marveled.  "He  was  king  of  the  salvage  Indians 

of  Maryland!  And  Drakepecker "  He  looked  with  awe  on  the  muscular 

Negroes  and  frowned. 

Bertrand  followed  the  thought,  and  his  eyes  welled  up  with  tears.  "How 
could  that  princely  fellow  be  a  slave?  Plague  take  your  Maryland!" 

"We  must  not  judge  o'erhastily,"  Ebenezer  said,  but  he  stroked  his  beard 
reflectively. 

All  through  this  colloquy  the  idle  Englishmen  had  wheezed  and  snick- 
ered in  the  background.  One  of  their  number— a  wiry,  wrinkled  old  repro- 


[  314  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

bate  with  clipped  ears  and  a  branded  palm— now  scraped  and  bowed  his 
way  up  to  them  and  said  with  exaggerated  accent,  "Your  Grace  must 
pardon  our  rudeness.  We're  at  your  service,  m'lord." 

"Be't  so,"  Ebenezer  said  at  once,  and  giving  Bertiand  a  knowing  look 
he  stepped  out  on  the  pier  to  address  the  group.  "Know,  my  good  men, 
that  rude  and  tattered  though  I  appear,  I  am  Ebenezer  Cooke,  appointed 
by  the  Lord  Proprietary  to  the  office  of  Poet  and  Laureate  of  the  Province 
of  Maryland;  I  and  my  man  have  suffered  imprisonment  at  the  hands  of 
pirates  and  narrowly  escaped  a  watery  grave.  I  shall  not  this  time  report 
your  conduct  to  your  masters,  but  do  henceforth  show  more  respect,  if  not 
for  me,  at  least  for  Poetry!" 

This  speech  they  greeted  with  applause  and  raucous  cheers,  which,  taking 
them  as  a  sign  of  gratitude  for  his  leniency,  elicited  from  the  Laureate  a 
benign  smile. 

"Now,"  he  said,  "I  know  not  where  in  Maryland  I  stand,  but  I  must  go 
at  once  to  Maiden,  my  plantation  on  Choptank  River.  I  shall  require  both 
transportation  and  direction,  for  I  know  naught  of  the  Province.  You,  my 
man,"  he  went  on,  addressing  the  old  man  with  the  branded  palm  who 
had  spoken  previously.  "Will  you  lead  me  thither?  I'm  certain  your  master 
shan't  object,  when  he  learns  the  office  of  your  passenger." 

"Aye,  now,  that's  certain!"  the  fellow  answered,  with  a  glance  at  his 
companions.  "But  say,  now,  Master  Poet,  how  will  ye  pay  me  for  my  labor? 
For  we  must  paddle  o'er  this  river  here,  and  there's  nothing  floats  like 
gold." 

Ebenezer  hid  his  discomfort  behind  an  even  haughtier  mien.  "As't  hap- 
pens, my  man,  what  gold  I  have  is  not  upon  my  person.  In  any  case,  I 
daresay  your  master  would  forbid  you  to  take  money  in  such  a  worthy 
service." 

"HI  take  my  chances  there,"  the  old  man  said.  "If  ye  cannot  pay  me, 
ye'll  cross  as  best  ye  can.  Is't  possible  so  great  a  man  hath  not  a  ring  or 
other  kind  of  valuable?" 

"Ye  may  have  mine/'  growled  Bertrand.  "Tis  a  bona  fide  salvage  relic, 
that  I  hear  is  worth  a  fortune."  He  reached  into  his  breeches  pocket.  "Hi, 
there,  Fve  lost  it  through  a  hole " 

"Out  on't!"  Ebenezer  cried,  losing  patience  with  the  Marylander.  "Not 
for  nothing  am  I  Laureate  of  this  Province!  Ferry  me  across,  fellow,  and 
you  shall  be  rewarded  with  the  finest  gold  e'er  mined:  the  pure  coin  of 
poetry!" 

The  old  man  cocked  his  head  as  though  impressed.  "Coin  o'  poetry,  is 
it?  Ye  mean  ye'll  say  me  a  verse  for  paddling  across  the  river?" 


THE   SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  315  ] 

"Recite?"  Ebenezer  scoffed.  "Nay,  man,  I  shan't  recite;  I  shall  compose! 
I  shall  extemporize!  Your  gold  will  not  be  soiled  from  many  hands  but 
be  struck  gleaming  from  the  mint  before  your  eyes!" 

The  man  scratched  one  clipped  ear.  "Well,  I  don't  know.  I  ne'er  heard 
tell  of  business  done  like  that." 

"Tut,"  Ebenezer  reassured  him.  "  Tis  done  from  day  to  day  in  Europe, 
and  for  weightier  matters  than  a  pitiful  ferry  ride.  Doth  not  Cervantes  tell 
us  of  a  poet  in  Spain  that  hired  himself  a  harlot  for  three  hundred  sonnets 
on  the  theme  of  Pyramus  and  Thisbe?" 

"Ye  do  not  tell  me!"  marveled  the  ferryman.  "Three  hundred  sonnets! 
And  what,  pray,  might  a  sonnet  be?" 

Ebenezer  smiled  at  the  fellow's  ignorance.  "  'Tis  a  verse-form." 

"A  verse-form,  now!" 

"Aye.  We  poets  do  not  merely  make  poems;  we  make  certain  sorts  of 
poems.  Just  as  in  coins  you  have  farthings  and  pence  and  shillings  and 
crowns,  in  verse  you  have  quatrains  and  sonnets  and  villanelles  and  ron- 
delays." 

"Aha!"  said  the  ferryman.  "And  this  sonnet,  then,  is  like  a  shilling?  Or 
a  half  crown?  For  I  shall  ask  a  crown  to  paddle  ye  o'er  this  river." 

"A  crown!"  the  poet  cried. 

"No  less,  Your  Excellency—the  currents  and  tides,  ye  know,  this  time 
of  year." 

Ebenezer  looked  skeptically  at  the  placid  river. 

"He  is  a  rogue  and  very  Jew,"  Bertrand  said. 

"Ah  well,  no  matter,,  Bertrand."  Ebenezer  winked  at  his  valet  and  turned 
again  to  the  Marylander.  "But  see  here,  my  man,  you  must  know  a  sonnet's 
worth  a  half  pound  sterling  on  the  current  London  market." 

"Spare  me  the  last  line  oft  then,"  said  the  ferryman,  "for  I  shan't  give 
change." 

"Done."  To  the  bystanders,  who  had  watched  the  bargaining  with  amuse- 
ment, he  said,  "Witness  that  this  fellow  hath  agreed,  on  consideration  of 
one  sonnet,  not  including  the  final  line,  to  ferry  Ebenezer  Cooke,  Poet  and 

Laureate  of  Maryland,  and  his  man  across  the I  say,  what  do  you  call 

this  river?" 

"The  Choptank/'  Ebenezer's  boatman  answered  quickly. 

"You  don't  say!  Then  Maiden  must  be  near  at  hand!" 

"Aye,"  the  old  man  vowed.  "  Tis  just  through  yonder  woods.  Ye  can 
walk  there  lightly  once  ye  cross  this  river." 

"Excellent!  Done,  then?" 


[  316  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"Done,  Your  Highness,  done!' '  He  held  up  an  unclean  finger.  "But  I 
shall  want  my  payment  in  advance."  , 

"Ah,  come  now!"  Ebenezer  protested. 

"What  doth  it  matter?"  whispered  Bertrand. 

"What  warrant  have  I  thou'rt  a  poet  at  all?"  the  man  insisted.  "Pay  me 
now,  or  no  feny  ride." 

Ebenezer  sighed.  "So  be't."  And  to  the  group:  "A  silence,  now,  an  it 
please  you." 

Then,  pressing  a  finger  to  his  temple  and  squinting  both  his  eyes,  he 
struck  an  attitude  of  composition,  and  after  a  moment  declaimed: 

"Hence,  loathed  Melancholy, 

Of  Cerberus  and  blackest  Midnight  born 
In  Stygian  cave  forlorn 

'Mongst  horrid  shapes,  and  shrieks,  and  sights  unholy! 
Find  out  some  uncouth  cell, 

Where  brooding  Darkness  spreads  his  jealous  wings, 
And  the  night-Raven  sings; 

There,  under  Ebon  shades,  and  low-browed  Rocks, 
As  ragged  as  thy  Locks, 

In  dark  Cimmerian  desert  ever  dwell" 

There  was  some  moments'  silence. 

"Well,  come,  my  man!"  the  poet  urged.  "You  have  your  fare!" 

"What?  Is  that  a  sonnet?" 

'On  my  honor,"  Ebenezer  assured  him.  "Minus  the  final  line,  to  be 

. 


sure 


"To  be  sure,  to  be  sure."  The  boatman  tugged  at  his  mutilated  ear. 
"So  that  is  my  half-pound  sonnet!  A  great  ugly  one  'twas,  at  that,  with 
all  those  shrieks  and  hollowings  in't." 

"What  matter?  Would  you  lift  your  nose  at  a  gold  piece  if  the  King  had 
an  ugly  head?  A  sonnet's  a  sonnet." 

"Aye,  aye,  'tis  the  truth,"  sighed  the  ferryman,  and  shook  his  head  as 
though  outwitted.  "Very  well,  then;  yonder's  my  canoe." 

"Let's  be  off,"  said  the  poet,  and  took  his  valet's  arm  triumphantly. 

But  when  he  saw  the  vessel  they  were  to  cross  in,  he  came  near  to  letting 
his  ferryman  keep  the  sonnet  gratis.  "Had  I  guessed  this  swine  trough  was 
to  be  our  boat,  I'd  have  kept  the  dark  Gimmerian  desert  in  rty  purse  " 

"Complain  no  more,"  the  boatman  answered.  "Had  I  but  known  whrt 
a  grubby  pittance  was  your  sonnet,  ye'd  have  swum  for  all  o'  me." 

Thus  understanding  each  other,  ferryman  and  passengers  climbed  cau- 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  Jiy  ] 

tiously  aboard  the  dugout  canoe  and  proceeded  out  onto  the  river,  which 
lay  as  smooth  as  any  looking  glass.  When  well  past  mid-channel  they  found 
the  surface  still  unrippled,  the  passengers  began  to  suspect  that  the  difficulty 
of  the  crossing  had  been  exaggerated. 

"I  say,"  asked  Bertrand  from  the  bow,  "where  are  those  wicked  tides  and 
currents,  that  made  this  trip  so  dear?" 

"Nowhere  save  in  my  fancy,"  said  the  ferryman  with  a  grin.  "Since  ye 
were  paying  your  passage  with  a  poem,  I  had  as  well  demand  a  big  one- 
it  cost  ye  no  more." 

"Oho!"  cried  Ebenezer.  "So  you  deceived  me!  Well,  think  not  thou'rt 
aught  the  richer  for't,  my  fellow,  for  the  sonnet  was  not  mine:  I  had  it 
from  one  whose  talent  equals  my  own " 

But  the  boatman  was  not  a  whit  put  out  by  this  disclosure.  "Last  year's 
gold  is  as  good  as  this  year's,"  he  declared,  "and  one  man's  as  good  as 
another's.  Though  ye  did  play  false  upon  your  pledge,  I'm  nowise  poorer 
for't.  A  ha'  pound's  a  ha'  pound,  and  a  sonnet's  a  sonnet,"  Just  then  the 
canoe  touched  the  opposite  shore  of  the  river.  "Here  ye  be,  Master  Poet, 
and  the  joke's  on  you." 

"Blackguard!"  grumbled  Bertrand. 

Ebenezer  smiled.  "As  you  will,  sir;  as  you  will."  He  stepped  ashore  with 
Bertrand  and  waited  until  the  ferryman  pushed  back  onto  the  river;  then 
he  laughed  and  called  to  him:  "Yet  the  truth  is,  Master  Numskull,  you 
sit  fleeced  from  nape  to  shank!  Not  only  is  your  sonnet  not  my  doing; 
'tis  not  even  a  sonnet!  Good  day,  sir!"  He  made  ready  to  flee  through  the 
woods  to  Maiden  should  the  ferryman  pursue  them,  but  that  gentleman 
merely  clucked  his  tongue,  between  strokes  of  his  paddle. 

"No  matter,  Master  Madman,"  he  called  back.  "  Tis  not  the  Choptank 
River,  either.  Good  night,  sir!" 


19:    THE  LAUREATE  ATTENDS  A  SWINE-MAIDEN'S 
TALE 


UPON  REALIZING  THAT  THE  FERRYMAN  HAD  MAROONED  HIM  IN  HE  KNEW 

not  what  wild  woods,  Ebenezer  set  up  a  considerable  hallooing  and  crying, 
hoping  thereby  to  attract  someone  from  the  opposite  shore  to  rescue  him; 
but  the  men  in  Scotch  cloth  were  evidently  in  on  the  prank,  for  they 


[  318  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

turned  away  and  left  the  hapless  pair  to  their  own  devices.  Already  the 
light  was  failing:  at  length  he  left  off  his  calling  and  surveyed  the  woods 
around  them,  which  grew  more  shadowy  by  the  minute. 

"Only  think  on't!"  he  said.  "Twas  Maryland  all  along!" 

Bertrand  kicked  disconsolately  at  a  tree  stump.  "More's  the  pity,  says  I. 
Your  Maryland  hath  not  even  civil  citizens/7 

"Ah,  friend,  your  heart  was  set  on  a  golden  city,  and  Maryland  hath 
none.  But  Gold  is  where  you  find  it,  is't  not?  What  treasure  is  more  valuable 
than  this,  to  reach  unscathed  our  journey's  end?" 

"I  would  Fd  stayed  with  Drakepecker  on  the  beach/'  the  valet  said. 
"What  good  hath  come  since  we  discovered  where  we  are?  Who  knows 
what  beasts  we'll  find  in  yonder  shadows?  Or  salvages,  that  rightly  hate 
an  English  face?" 

"And  yet,  'tis  Maryland!"  Ebenezer  sighed  happily.  "Who  knows  but 
what  my  father,  and  his  father,  have  crossed  this  selfsame  river  and  seen 
those  selfsame  trees?  Think  on't,  man:  we  are  not  far  from  Maiden!" 

"And  is  that  such  a  joyous  thought,  sir,,  when  for  aught  we  know  'tis 
no  more  your  estate?" 

Ebenezer's  face  fell.  "I'faith,  I  had  forgot  your  wager!"  At  thought  of 
it  he  joined  his  valet's  gloom  and  sat  at  the  foot  of  a  nearby  birch.  "We 
dare  not  try  these  woods  tonight,  at  any  rate.  Build  up  a  fire,  and  we'll 
find  our  way  at  dawn." 

"Twill  draw  the  Indians,  will  it  not?"  Bertrand  asked. 

"It  might,"  the  poet  said  glumly.  "On  the  other  hand,  'twill  keep  away 
the  beasts.  Do  as  you  please." 

Indeed,  even  as  Bertrand  commenced  striking  on  the  flint  from  his  tin- 
derbox— in  which  also  he  had  brought  from  the  beach  a  small  supply  of 
dried  sea-grass  for  tinder— the  two  men  heard  the  grunt  of  an  animal 
somewhere  among  the  trees  not  many  yards  upstream. 

"Hark!"  Goose  flesh  pimpled  the  Laureate's  arms,  and  he  jumped  to 
his  feet.  "Make  haste  there  with  the  fire!" 

The  grunt  sounded  again,  accompanied  by  a  rustling  of  leaves;  a  moment 
later  another  answered  from  farther  away,  and  then  another  and  another,, 
until  the  wood  was  filled  with  the  sound  of  beasts,  advancing  in  their 
direction.  While  Bertrand  struck  furiously  at  the  flint,  Ebenezer  called 
once  more  across  the  river  for  help,  but  there  was  no  one  to  hear. 

"A  spark!  I  have  a  spark!"  cried  Bertrand,  and  cupped  the  tinder  in  his 
hands  to  blow  up  a  flame.  "Make  ready  the  kindling  wood!"  ' 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  319  ] 

"  'Sheart,  we've  not  got  any!"  The  sound  was  almost  upon  them  now. 
"Run  for  the  river!" 

Bertrand  dropped  the  seaweed,  and  they  raced  headlong  into  the  shal- 
lows; nor  had  they  got  knee-deep  before  they  heard  the  animals  burst  out 
of  the  woods  behind  them  and  squeal  and  snuffle  on  the  muddy  shore. 

"You  there!"  cried  a  woman's  voice.  "Are  ye  mad  or  merely  drunken?" 

"Marry!"  said  Bertrand.  "  Tis  a  woman!" 

They  turned  round  in  surprise  and  in  the  last  light  saw  standing  on  the 
mud  bank  a  disheveled  woman  of  uncertain  age,  dressed,  like  the  men  on 
the  landing,  in  bleached  and  tattered  Scotch  cloth  and  carrying  a  stick 
with  which  she  drove  a  number  of  swine.  These  latter  grumped  and  rooted 
along  the  shore,  pausing  often  to  regard  the  two  men  balefully. 

"Dear  Heav'n,  the  jest's  on  us!"  the  poet  called  back,  and  did  his  best 
to  laugh.  "My  man  and  I  are  strangers  to  the  Province,  and  were  left 
stranded  here  by  some  dolt  for  a  prank!" 

"Come  hither,  then,"  the  woman  said.  "These  swine  shan't  eat  ye."  To 
reassure  them  she  drove  the  nearest  hog  off  with  her  stick,  and  the  two 
men  waded  ^horewards. 

"I  thank  you  for  your  kindness,"  Ebenezer  said;  "haply  'tis  in  your  power 
to  do  me  yet  another,  for  I  need  a  lodging  for  the  night.  My  name  is 
Ebenezer  Cooke,  Poet  and  Laureate  of  the  Province  of  Maryland,  and 
I— nay,  madam,  fear  not  for  your  modesty!"  The  woman  had  gasped  and 
turned  away  as  they  approached.  "Our  clothes  are  wet  and  ragged,  but 
they  cover  us  yet!"  Ebenezer  prattled  on.  "In  sootk  I'm  not  the  picture 
of  a  laureate  poet,  I  know  well;  'tis  owing  to  the  many  trials  I've  been 
through,  the  like  of  which  you'd  ne'er  believe  if  I  should  tell  you.  Kidnaped 
by  pirates  and  thrown  overboard  to  die!  But  once  I  reach  my  manor  on 
the  Choptank— i'God/" 

The  woman  had  turned  in  his  direction  and  raised  her  head.  Her  black 
hair  showed  no  signs  of  soap  or  comb,  nor  had  she  plagued  her  skin  over- 
much with  scrubbing.  But  what  caused  Ebenezer  to  break  off  in  mid- 
sentence  was  the  fact  that  except  for  her  slovenliness  and  the  open  sores 
that  even  in  the  shadow  were  conspicuous  on  her  face  and  arms,  the  swine- 
maiden  could  have  passed  for  the  girl  in  the  Cyprian's  rigging;  and  but 
for  a  decade's  difference  in  their  apparent  ages,  she  bore  a  certain  resem- 
blance to  the  youthful  whore  Joan  Toast. 

"Am  I  such  a  sight  as  that?"  the  woman  asked  harshly. 

"Nay,  nay,  forgive  me!"  Ebenezer  begged.  "  'Tis  quite  the  contrary:  you 
look  in  some  ways  like  a  girl  I  knew  in  London— how  long  since!" 


[  320  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"Ye  do  not  tell  me!  Had  this  wench  my  lovely  clothes  and  fine  com- 
plexion, and  did  ye  show  a  nice  concern  for  her  maidenhead?" 

"Ah,  prithee,  speak  less  sourly!"  the  Laureate  said.  "If  I  said  aught  to  hurt 
thee,  I  swear  'twas  not  intended!" 

The  maid  turned  sullenly  away.  "My  master's  house  lies  just  round  yon- 
der point,  a  mile  or  two.  Ye  can  bed  there  if  yeVe  a  mind  to."  Without 
waiting  for  reply  she  smote  the  nearest  hog  upon  its  ham-butt  with  her 
stick  to  start  it  moving,  and  the  procession  grunted  upstream  toward  the 
point. 

"She  bears  some  likeness  to  Joan  Toast,"  Ebenezer  whispered  to  Ber- 
trand. 

"As  doth  a  bat  to  a  butterfly,"  the  valet  replied  contemptuously,  "that 
make  their  way  through  the  world  by  the  selfsame  means." 

"Ah,  now,"  the  poet  protested,  and  the  memory  of  his  adventure  on  the 
Cyprian  made  him  dizzy;  "she's  but  a  swineherd  and  unclean,  yet  she 
hath  a  certain  air .  .  ." 

"  Tis  that  she's  windward  of  us,  if  ye  should  ask  me." 

But  Ebenezer  would  not  be  discouraged;  he  caught  up  to  the  woman 
and  asked  her  name. 

"Why,  'tis  Susan  Warren,  sir,"  she  said  uncordially.  "I  suppose  ye  want 
to  hire  me  for  your  whore?" 

"Dear  Heavens,  no!  Twas  but  an  idle  pleasantry,  I  swear!  D'you  think 
a  laureate  poet  plays  with  whores?" 

For  answer,  Susan  Warren  only  sniffed. 

"Who  is  your  master,  then?"  Ebenezer  demanded,  somewhat  less  gently. 
"  'Twill  be  surpassing  pleasant  to  meet  a  proper  gentleman,  for  I've  met 
no  Marylander  yet  who  was  not  either  a  rogue  or  a  simpleton.  Yet  Lord 
Baltimore,  when  he  wrote  out  my  commission,  made  much  of  the  manners 
and  good  breeding  in  his  Province  and  charged  me  to  write  of  them." 

Instead  of  answering,  the  swine-maiden,  to  Ebenezer's  considerable  sur- 
prise, began  to  weep. 

"Why,  what  is  this?  Said  I  aught  to  affront  you?" 

The  procession  halted,  and  Bertrand  came  up  chuckling  from  behind. 
"  Tis  that  the  lady  hath  tender  feelings,  sir.  'Twas  boorish  of  ye  not  to 
hire  her  services." 

"Enough!"  the  poet  commanded,  and  said  to  Susan  Warren,  "'Tis  not 
my  wont  to  traffic  in  harlotry,  ma'am;  forgive  me  if  I  gave  you  to  think 
otherwise." 

"'Tis  none  o'  your  doing,  sir,"  the  woman  replied,  and  resumed  her 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  321  ] 

pace  along  the  path.  "The  truth  is  that  my  master's  such  a  rascal,  and  uses 
me  so  ill,  e'en  to  think  on't  brings  the  tears." 

"And  how  is  that?  Doth  he  beat  you,  then?" 

She  shook  her  head  and  sniffed.  "If  'twere  but  a  birching  now  and  again 
I'd  not  complain.  The  rod's  but  one  among  my  grievances,  nor  yet  a  very 
great  one." 

"He  doth  worse,  then?"  Ebenezer  exclaimed. 

"Ffaith,  he  must  be  hard  pressed  for  diversion,"  said  the  valet,  and  drew 
a  stern  look  from  his  master. 

Susan  Warren  permitted  herself  another  round  of  wails  and  tears,  after 
which,  heaving  a  sigh  to  Heaven  and  kicking  in  the  bacon  a  pig  that  stopped 
before  her  to  make  water  in  the  path,  she  poured  out  to  the  Laureate  the 
whole  tale  of  her  tribulations,  as  follows: 

"I  was  bom  Susan  Smith,"  she  said,  "and  my  mother  died  a-bearing  me, 
My  father  had  a  small  shop  in  London,  near  Puddle  Dock,  where  he 
coopered  casks  and  barrels  for  the  ships.  One  day  when  I  was  eighteen 
and  pretty  as  ye  please,  I  took  a  stroll  down  Blackfriars  o'er  to  Ludgate, 
and  was  bowed  to  by  a  handsome  wight  that  called  me  Miss  Williams, 
and  asked  to  walk  along  with  me.  Te  may  not  do't,'  I  told  him,  'nor  is 
my  name  Miss  Williams/  'How's  this?'  he  cried.  "Thou'rt  not  Miss  Eliza- 
beth Williams  from  Gracechurch  Street?'  1  am  not/  said  I.  'Then  pardon 
me/  said  he,  'thou'rt  like  as  twins/ 

"  Twas  clear  to  me  the  lad  spoke  truly,  for  he  was  a  civil  gentleman  and 
blushed  at  his  mistake,  He  said  he  was  in  love  with  this  Miss  Williams,  but 
for  all  she  said  she  loved  him  she'd  have  none  o'  him  for  her  husband,  and 
spoke  of  some  great  sin  that  damned  her  soul.  Yet  this  Humphrey  Warren 
(that  was  his  name)  declared  he'd  have  her  to  wife  with  all  the  sins  o' 
man  upon  her  conscience. 

"I  saw  poor  Humphrey  often  then  by  Ludgate,  for  Miss  Williams  grew 
less  ardent  day  by  day;  he  told  me  all  his  trials  on  her  account,  and  said  we 
looked  so  much  alike,  'twas  as  if  he  spoke  to  her  instead  of  me.  For  my  part, 
I  envied  this  Miss  Williams  not  a  little,  and  thought  her  a  great  fool  to 
scorn  so  fine  a  gentleman.  Dear  Humphrey  was  not  rich,  but  he  held  a 
decent  post  in  the  firm  of  a  Captain  Mitchell,  that  was  Miss  Williams' 
older  half  brother,,  and  had  every  other  virtue  that  could  please  a  woman's 
heart. 

"Then  one  day  Humphrey  came  to  Father's  shop  near  Puddle  Dock, 
weeping  fit  to  die,  and  said  Miss  Williams  had  done  herself  to  death  with 


[  522  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

poison!  I  took  pity  on  the  man,  albeit  at  heart  I  had  none  for  Miss  Williams, 
and  rejoiced  when  Humphrey  came  to  see  me  every  day.  At  length  he  said, 
'Dear  Susan,  thy  likeness  to  Elizabeth  is  my  curse  and  my  salvation!  I  weep 
to  see  ye,  thinking  of  her  dead;  yet  I  cannot  think  her  gone,  with  her  living 
image  every  day  before  me/  And  I  said,  'I  could  wish,  sir,  ye  saw  somewhat 
beyond  that  likeness/ 

"This  gave  him  pause,  and  anon  he  went  to  Father,  and  we  two  were 
wed.  Yet  for  all  I  strove  to  win  my  Humphrey's  love,  I  saw  'twas  but  the 
image  of  Miss  Williams  he  made  love  to.  One  night  when  he  lay  sleeping 
fast  I  kissed  him,  and  in  his  sleep  he  said,  'God  save  ye,  sweet  Elizabeth!' 
Fool  that  I  was,  I  woke  him  on  the  instant,  and  made  him  choose  betwixt 
the  two  of  us.  'Elizabeth  is  dead,'  I  said,  'and  I'm  alive.  Do  ye  love  me, 
love  myself  and  not  my  likeness,  else  I  shan't  stay  in  this  bed  another 
moment!' 

"Ah,  God!  Had  I  been  but  ten  years  older,  or  one  groatsworth  wiser,  I'd 
have  held  my  tongue!  What  matter  what  he  called  me,  so  he  loved  me? 
Why,  didn't  he  call  me  Honey  and  Sweetheart  and  a  flock  of  names  besides, 
as  well  as  Susan?  I  cursed  my  speech  the  moment  'twas  spoke,  but  the  hurt 
was  done.  'Dear  Susan!'  Humphrey  cried.  'Why  did  ye  that?  Would  God 
ye  had  not  asked  me  to  choose!' 

"All  for  naught  then  my  begging  and  weeping;  he'd  not  let  me  put  by  my 
words,  but  he  must  choose.  And  choose  he  did,  though  not  a  word  he  said 
oft;  for  next  morn  he  was  too  ill  to  rise,  and  died  not  four  days  after.  Thus 
was  I  widowed  at  nineteen  years.  .  .  . 

"My  father  had  grave  troubles  of  his  own,  for  his  trade  was  poor,  and 
Humphrey's  niggard  funeral  took  his  savings.  He  went  into  debt  to  pay  for 
food  and  stock,  and  just  when  the  lot  was  gone,  and  the  creditors  were 
hounding  at  our  door,  a  man  came  in  to  order  casks  for's  vessel,  which  he 
said  was  bound  for  Maryland  at  month's  end.  So  pleased  was  Father  to 
get  the  work,  he  bade  me  brew  the  man  some  tea.  But  at  sight  o'  me  the 
wight  turned  pale  and  wept,  for  all  he  was  a  burly  bearded  sailor! 

"  What  is't?'  said  I,  that  had  been  like  to  die  of  grief  myself  those  many 
weeks.  The  captain  begged  forgiveness  and  said  'twas  my  likeness  to  his 
dear  dead  sister  caused  his  tears.  In  short,  we  learned  he  was  Captain 
William  Mitchell  of  Gracechurch  Street,  the  same  that  was  half  brother  to 
Elizabeth  and  my  Humphrey's  late  employer.  Had  I  but  known  then  what 
vipers  hid  behind  that  kindly  face,  I  had  turned  him  out  and  bolted  fast 
the  door!  But  instead  we  wept  together:  I  for  my  Humphrey,  Captain 


THE   SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  323  ] 

Mitchell  for  his  sister,  and  father  for  the  miseries  of  this  life,  wherein  we 
lose  the  ones  we  love  and  cannot  even  mourn  them  fitly,  for  grubbing  to 
feed  the  living." 

Here  Susan  had  to  interrupt  her  narrative  for  some  moments  to  give 
expression  to  ,her  grief.  Tears  ran  as  well  down  Ebenezer's  face,  and  even 
Bertrand  was  no  longer  hostile,  but  sighed  in  sympathy. 

"Captain  Mitchell  then  came  oft  to  visit  us/'  she  went  on,  "and  father 
and  I  being  innocent  of  the  World's  wickedness,  we  took  him  to  our  hearts. 
We  had  no  secret  he  was  not  made  privy  to,  though  he  gave  us  to  know 
little  of  himself.  Yet  we  guessed  that  he  was  rich,  for  he  spoke  of  carrying 
twenty  servants  to  Maryland,  whither  he  sailed  to  take  some  fine  post  in 
the  government. 

"Then  when  the  coopering  was  done  and  all  the  casks  hauled  over  to 
the  dock,  Captain  Mitchell  made  my  father  a  strange  proposal:  he  would 
pay  off  Father's  debts  and  leave  him  unencumbered  for  good  and  all,  if  I 
would  sail  to  Maryland  with  Mrs.  Mitchell  and  himself.  He  would  treat  me 
as  his  own  dear  sister,  he  declared;  nay,  more— 'twas  just  that  likeness  had 
resolved  him,  and  he  meant  to  call  me  Elizabeth  Williams.  I  was  to  be  a 
sister  to  him,  and  companion  to  his  ailing  wife  .  .  . 

"My  father  wept  and  thanked  him  for  his  kindness,  but  said  he  could 
not  live  if  I  were  gone,  whereupon  Captain  Mitchell  proposed  at  once  that 
he  sell  the  shop— lock,  stock,  and  barrels— and  start  a  new  life  in  America. 
Naught  would  do  then  but  we  fetch  our  books  and  ledgers,  almost  a-swoon 
with  joy  and  gratitude,  and  he  paid  our  creditors  in  cash.  'Surely  there's 
some  condition  to  this  kindness!'  Father  cried,  and  Captain  Mitchell  said, 
'No  more  than  what  I  stated:  Miss  Warren  is  now  my  sister/ 

"Thus  was  the  business  done,  with  my  consent.  That  night,  when  things 
were  calm  again,  I  felt  odd  at  being  Elizabeth  Williams,  that  I  had  envied 
and  despised,  and  wondered  if  I'd  spoken  in  too  great  haste.  Yet  'twas  a 
kind  of  pleasure  too,  inasmuch  as  Humphrey  had  loved  Elizabeth  all  in 
vain  and  now  would  have  his  love  returned  tenfold! 

"On  shipboard  I  was  placed  in  Mrs.  Mitchell's  room,  while  Father  was 
placed  with  Captain  Mitchell's  servants  in  the  'tween  decks.  Mrs.  Mitchell 
was  bedridden  with  some  strange  malady,  but  she  was  sweet  to  me.  She 
called  me  Elizabeth,  and  bade  me  do  whatever  her  husband  asked,  because 
he  was  a  great  good  man  that  she  could  not  live  without.  Two  times  a 
day  I  gave  her  medicine  in  little  phials  that  Captain  Mitchell  took  from  a 
wooden  qhest:  if  I  was  late  'twould  drive  her  almost  mad,  but  once  she  had 


[  224]  THE  Sdt-WEED  FACTOR 

her  phial,  she'd  off  to  sleep  at  once.  Captain  Mitchell  had  a  great  many  of 
these  phials,  and  one  morning  he  bade  me  take  one  lest  I  get  seasick. 

"  Thankee,'  said  I,  'but  we're  eight  days  out  and  I've  not  been  seasick 
yet/  Captain  Mitchell  then  came  near  and  put  his  arm  about  my  waist, 
right  before  Mrs.  Mitchell's  eyes,  and  said,  'Sister,  ye  must  do  as  your 
brother  says.'  And  Mrs.  Mitchell  cried,  'Aye,  aye,  Elizabeth,  do  as  your 
brother  says!' 

"He  gave  a  phial  to  me  then,  and  to  pacify  them  both  I  did  as  he  bade 
me,  and  chewed  the  brown  gum  inside.  Ah  Christ,  that  the  first  bitter  taste 
had  killed  me!  Twas  no  medicine  I  took  at  all,  but  itself  a  malady  worse 
than  death:  'twas  opium  I  ate,  sirs,  all  innocently  that  day!" 

'"Sheart!"  cried  Bertiand. 

'The  wretch!"  cried  Ebenezer. 

44  Twas  opium  kept  Mrs.  Mitchell  to  her  bed  and  drove  her  mad  when 
'twas  lacking!  Twas  opium  led  to  my  downfall,  and  my  father's,  and 
brought  me  to  this  state  ye  see:  a  filthy  trollop  driving  swine!  God  curse 
the  hand  that  raised  the  poppy  that  made  the  opium  I  ate  that  day!  Yet  I 
thought  'twas  simple  medicine,  belike  a  soporific,  and  bitter  as  it  was,  I  ate 
it  all.  Straightway  I  drowsed  upon  my  feet,  and  the  room  changed  sizes; 
I  was  on  the  bed  with  Mrs.  Mitchell,  that  grasped  me  by  the  hand,  and  the 
Captain  leaning  o'er  the  twain  of  us.  His  head  had  got  huge;  his  eyes  were 
afire.  'Sister  Elizabeth!  Sister  Elizabeth!'  he  said.  .  .  . 

"In  my  dream  I  rose  up  high  o'er  the  ship,  hand  in  hand  with  Mrs. 
Mitchell  The  sky  was  blue  as  sapphire,  and  the  sea  beneath  us  looked  like 
fine  black  crepe.  The  ship  was  a  wee  thing,  clear  and  bright,  and  straight 
on  the  horizon  was  the  sun.  Then  the  sun  was  the  eye  of  a  man,  and  Mrs. 
Mitchell  said,  Tookee  yonder,  Elizabeth:  that  man  is  Christ  Almighty, 
and  ye  must  do  what  he  says,  as  thou'rt  a  proper  Catholic  girl.'  We  went 
up  near  to  Christ's  great  eye,  and  when  He  looked  to  us  we  stood  naked 
for  his  judgment. 

"'Sister  Elizabeth/  he  said  to  me,  'I  shall  soon  choose  ye  for  a  mighty 
work.  I  mean  to  get  a  child  on  ye,  as  my  Father  did  on  Mary!'  I  saw  myself 
next  in  the  habit  of  a  nun,  and  Mrs.  Mitchell  called  me  Sister  Elizabeth, 
the  bride  o'  Christ.  Then  Christ's  voice  came  like  a  great  warm  wind  be- 
hind me,  calling,  'Sister!  Sister!  Sister!'  and  while  that  Mrs.  Mitchell  held 
me,  I  was  swived. 

"  Twas  all  clear  when  I  woke,  for  the  face  o'  Jesus  was  Captain  Mitchell's 
face:  I  saw  why  Elizabeth  had  turned  in  shame  from  Humphrey  and  killed 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  t  325  I 

herself  with  poison;  I  saw  why  Captain  Mitchell  called  me  his  sister,  in  his 
awful  wickedness,  and  why  Mrs.  Mitchell  had  to  help  him  in  his  sin.  From 
that  day  I  was  lost,  and  Captain  Mitchell  hid  no  longer  his  real  nature. 
Again  and  again  they  forced  the  drug  upon  me,  till  I  was  dreaming 
half  the  day  of  Christ  my  lover.  The  craving  got  such  hold  on  me,  I'd  have 
killed  any  man  to  get  my  phial.  Five  pounds  apiece  he  set  his  fee,  till  I  had 
borrowed  from  my  father  all  the  money  Captain  Mitchell  had  given  him, 
and  the  poor  man  went  to  Maryland  a  pauper.  After  that  there  was  naught 
for't  but  to  sell  my  services  for  the  future,  a  month  of  bondage  for  every 
phial:  I  signed  a  blank  indenture-bond  for  Captain  Mitchell  to  count  the 
months  on,  and  knew  I  was  his  slave  and  whore  for  life. 

"All  through  this  time  I'd  not  seen  father  once,  nor  did  I  wish  to. 
Captain  Mitchell  told  him  I  was  ill  and  that  the  money  was  for  medicine. 
When  all  was  gone  the  poor  man  near  lost  his  mind;  he  begged  for  more 
money,  but  Captain  Mitchell  bade  him  indent  himself  to  the  captain  of 
the  ship,  who  then  would  sell  the  indenture-bond  in  port.  My  father  sold 
himself  at  first  for  two  years,  then  for  four,  and  all  the  money  went  to 
Captain  Mitchell  for  my  medicine, 

"One  day  near  the  end  o'  the  passage  Captain  Mitchell  gave  his  wife 
two  phials  instead  of  one,  and  two  more  after  that,  until  she  died  before 
my  eyes.  Inasmuch  as  we  had  no  physician,  and  everyone  knew  of  the  lady's 
illness,  she  was  buried  at  sea  and  no  questions  asked.  When  we  raised  St. 
Mary's  City,  Father's  bond  was  sold  to  a  Mr.  Spurdance  on  the  Eastern 
Shore,  and  'tis  the  last  I've  seen  o'  him  these  five  years.  Captain  Mitchell 
moved  into  a  fine  large  house  in  St.  Mary's,  and  no  longer  did  I  pose  as 
Elizabeth  Williams  (save  in  bed),  but  was  Susan  Warren,  his  indentured 
servant. 

"I  was  wont  to  say  to  myself  'St.  Mary's  City,  St.  Mary's  City,'  and  in  my 
opium  dreams  it  was  St.  Susan's  City,  that  I  ruled  over,  and  Christ  came 
down  and  swived  me  night  by  night.  One  morning  Mrs.  Sissly,  the  neighbor 
woman,  said,  'Miss  Warren,  thou'rt  with  child/  and  I  said,  'Mrs.  Sissly,  if  I 
am  with  child  'twas  inspired  by  no  man,  but  by  the  Holy  Ghost.'  But  Mrs. 
Sissly  thought  'twas  some  manservant  of  the  town  I'd  lain  with,  and  told 
the  tale  to  Captain  Mitchell.  He  fell  into  a  rage  on  hearing  the  news,  for 
all  he  was  the  father;  he  told  Martha  Webb,  the  cook,  to  boil  me  an  egg 
next  morning,  and  he  put  a  horrid  physic  in't,  and  made  me  eat  it  all.  Then 
he  put  a  towel  round  his  neck  and  told  Mrs.  Webb  he  had  physicked  him- 
self, and  not  to  allow  any  visitors  whilst  he  was  a-purging.  'Twas  a  terrible 


[  326  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

strong  physic,  that  had  me  three  days  purging  strongly  on  the  close-stool. 
It  made  me  ill  besides,  and  scurvied  all  my  body;  I  broke  out  in  boils  and 
blains,  and  lost  the  hair  off  head  and  privates.  Then  the  babe  in  my  womb 
was  murthered  dead  by't,  and  I  knew  wherefore  he'd  given  it  me  to 

take 

"  What  think  ye  now?7  he  said.  'Will  ye  try  that  trick  again?'  And  I  said, 
That  child  was  holy,  sir;  'twas  fathered  on  me  by  Jesus  in  your  person/ 
And  'Jesus  Christ  indeed!'  said  he.  'There  is  no  such  person,  Sister,  nor 
any  Holy  Ghost!'  And  he  said  he  was  astonished  that  the  world  had  been 
deluded  these  many  years  by  a  man  and  a  pigeon. 

"Now  these  blasphemies  were  heard  by  Mrs.  Webb  and  Mrs.  Sissly,  that 
ofttimes  listened  outside  our  doors,  and  being  both  gocxj  Christian  women 
they  took  the  tale  to  the  sheriff.  Captain  Mitchell  was  summoned  to  the 
next  grand  jury  and  charged  with  fraud,  murther,  adultery,  fornication, 
blasphemy,  and  murtherous  intent.  I  did  rejoice  withal,  despite  he  had  the 
opium  and  my  life  would  end  with  his. 

"But,  alas,  I  recked  without  the  man's  position,  and  the  evil  o'  Maryland's 
courts:  Captain  Mitchell  was  fined  a  sniveling  five  thousand  pounds  o'  sot- 
weed,  whereof  one  third  was  remitted  by  the  Governor,  while  I— that  God 
knows  had  endured  enough-I  was  sentenced  to  thirty-nine  lashes  on  my 
suffering  naked  back,  by  the  courthouse  door,  for  leading  a  lewd  course  o9 
life!  They  also  took  my  master's  post  away— not  for  his  wickedness,  but  for 
his  blasphemies— and  freed  me  from  my  indenture.  But  little  good  that 
did  me,  that  for  my  next  phial  must  indent  myself  again,  and  take  another 
bastinado  at  his  hands! 

"We  moved  then  to  this  place  in  Calvert  County,  and  my  master  plants 
tobacco.  I  am  more  wretched  than  e'er  before,  for  since  the  physic  robbed 
my  beauty  he'll  not  have  me  now  but  once  in  a  passing  while.  He  courts  a 
new  girl,  only  lately  come  from  London,  a  wee  child  of  a  thing  that  hath 
the  face  of  Elizabeth  Williams  and  myself,  and  he  treats  her  like  a  queen 
the  while  I'm  set  to  drive  the  swine.  Yet  he  gives  me  still  my  phials,  and  I 
well  know  why:  'twill  not  be  long  ere  I  hold  her  for  him,  while  he  puts 
the  first  opium  in  her  mouth  and  calls  her  Sister  Elizabeth.  I  shall  get 
no  more  phials  after  that:  I  will  fling  myself  to  drown  in  yon  Patuxent  and 

be  well  out  oft,  and  he  will  have  his  new  young  sister  for  good  and  all 

"God  curse  that  man  and  this  province!"  the  woman  cried  finally,  leaning 
upon  her  staff  to  weep.  "Would  Christ  I  had  died  while  yet  a  maiden  girl, 
in  my  father's  little  coopery  on  the  Thames!" 


20:    THE   LAUREATE  ATTENDS  THE   SWINE-MAIDEN 
HERSELF 


EBENEZER  AND  BERTRANB  LISTENED  DUMB  STRUCK  TO  THIS  TALE,  WHICH 

done  the  poet  cried,  "Out  on't,  but  your  master  is  the  Devil  himself! 
Charles,  Charles!  Where  is  the  majesty  of  Maryland's  law,  when  a  woman 
is  used  so  ill?  I  would  to  Heav'n  my  baggage  were  here  and  not  God  alone 
knows  where;  then  would  I  fetch  up  my  sword,  and  this  Captain  Mitchell 
speak  nimbly!" 

"Ah  nay,  ye  dare  not/'  Susan  warned.  "Let  fall  but  a  word  of  what  I've 
said,  and  we're  all  of  us  dead  men," 

"In  that  event,"  the  Laureate  said  after  some  reflection,  "he  shall  not 
have  the  honor  of  my  visit.  Aye,  the  boor  shall  learn  how  decent  folk  shun 
such  beasts  as  he!" 

"B'm'faith!"  commented  Bertrand.  "Tis  a  fearsome  punishment  you 
exact,  sir!" 

Susan  straightway  recommenced  her  weeping.  "  Tis  done,  then!"  she 
declared.  "Tis  o'er  and  done!" 

"How's  that?"  the  poet  inquired.  "What's  done?" 

"I,"  the  maid  replied,  "for  when  I  saw  your  face  and  heard  o'  your  won- 
drous office,  my  poor  brain  hatched  a  plan.  But  what  I  hatched,  ye've 
scotched,  and  'tis  done  for  Susan  Warren." 

"A  plan,  you  say?" 

The  swine-girl  nodded.  "To  make  my  escape  and  be  rid  o'  that  antichrist 
my  master," 

"Pray  lay  it  open,  then,  that  we  might  judge  it." 

"Know,  then,"  she  said,  "that  some  time  past,  when  Captain  Mitchell 
found  this  newest  prey,  I  guessed  my  phials  would  soon  become  a  burthen 
to  him  and  so,  while  feigning  to  eat  the  whole  of  the  contents,  in  fact  I  laid 
by  a  little  every  time  and  saved  it  in  my  snuffbox  Of  each  phial  I  ate  a 
grain  less  and  saved  a  grain  more,  till  now  I've  near  a  month's  worth  in 
reserve;  and  I  have  farther  hid  my  one  good  dress,  that  Mrs.  Sissly  gave  me 
to  be  flogged  in.  Now  I  have  it  privily  that  Father's  indenture  is  run  out, 
and  Mr.  Spurdance  his  master  hath  given  him  twenty  acres  of  his  own  to 
till  on  the  Eastern  Shore.  If  I  can  flee  from  this  evil  house  I  shall  make  my 


[  328  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

way  to  my  father's  farm  and  hide  myself  till  my  cure  is  done;  then  he  and  I 
shall  seek  passage  back  to  London/' 

"Brave  plans!"  said  Bertraud,  whose  sympathy  the  swine-maid's  plight 
had  won  entirely.  "What  can  we  do  to  aid  ye?" 

"Ah,  sir!"  wept  Susan,  still  addressing  Ebenezer.  "These  brave  plans 
were  fond  indeed,  should  I  simply  strike  out  on  the  road.  The  law  goes 
hard  on  fleeing  servants,  and  my  back  thirsts  not  for  farther  stripes.  What  I 
require  to  fly  this  sink  o'  Hell  fore'er  is  but  a  sum  of  silver,  that  ye  would 
not  miss;  I  have  found  a  boatman  that  will  risk  flogging  to  sail  me  o'er  the 
Bay,  but  he  demands  his  fare.  Two  pounds,  my  lord!"  she  cried,  and  greatly 
disconcerted  the  Laureate  by  falling  to  her  knees  before  him  and  embracing 
his  legs.  "Two  pounds  will  send  me  safe  to  my  dear  father!  Oh,  sir,  refuse 
me  not!  Think  of  someone  ye  love  in  these  sad  straits— thy  sister,  or  some 
sweetheart!" 

"  Tore  God,  I  would  'twere  in  my  power  to  help  you,"  Ebenezer  said, 
*1>ut  I  am  penniless.  I've  but  this  trifling  ring,  here,  made  of  bone " 

He  drew  it  ruefully  from  his  shirt  to  show  his  poverty,  but  at  sight  of  it 
'Susan  jumped  up  and  cried,  "God  save  us!  Whence  came  that  ring?" 

"I  may  not  tell/'  the  poet  replied.  "Why  doth  the  sight  of  it  alarm  you?" 

"No  matter,"  said  Susan,  and  clutched  at  the  fishbone  ring  that  hung 
still  on  its  thong  about  the  poet's  neck.  "It  hath  a  certain  value  in  the 
market,  and  methinks  the  boatman  will  accept  it  for  his  fare." 

But  Ebenezer  hesitated.  "  Twas  a  kind  of  gift,"  he  said.  "I  am  loath  to 
part  with't .  .  ." 

"Christ!  Christ!"  Susan  wailed.  "Ye  will  refuse  me!  Look  ye  hither,  now 
that  fiend  abuses  me!  Will  ye  send  me  back  for  more?" 

She  raised  her  tattered  skirt  above  her  knees  and  displayed  two  legs  which, 
wealed  and  welted  though  they  were,  had  not  been  spoiled  by  the  physic 
that  had  uglified  the  rest  of  her.  Indeed,  they  were  quite  fetching  legs,  the 
first  Ebenezer  had  seen  since  that  day  aboard  the  Cyprian. 

"Ah,  well,  thou'rt  still  a  woman,"  Bertrand  said  appreciatively,  "and  a 
good  wench  sits  upon  her  own  best  argument." 

This  observation  brought  fresh  tears  from  Susan  and  a  scathing  look 
from  Ebenezer. 

"I  have  seen  harlotiy  enough,"  she  declared,  "and  the  boatman  is  a  man 
too  old  to  care." 

^Indeed?"  the  valet  smiled.  "But  my  master  and  I  are  not." 
"Hold  thy  tongue!"  the  poet  commanded.  Susan  came  up  to  him,  and 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  329  ] 

more  than  ever  he  was  moved  by  her  strange  story  and  her  resemblance  to 
Joan  Toast. 

"Ye'd  not  see  me  beat  again  now,  would  ye,  sir?"  They  were  in  sight  of  a 
house  by  this  time,  whose  lamplit  windows  shone  across  the  tobacco-fields. 
"Yonder  there  is  Captain  Mitchell's  house;  he'll  take  you  in  right  gladly  as 
his  guest,  but  me  he  will  whip  privily  'till  he  wearies  of  the  sport." 

Ebenezer  had  some  difficulty  with  his  voice.  "  Twere  in  sooth  a  pity," 
he  croaked. 

"I  shan't  allow  it,"  the  girl  said  softly.  "If  the  man  I  loathe  most  in  the 
world  hath  his  will  o'  me  whene'er  it  please  him,  shall  I  deny  the  man  who 
delivers  me  from  all  my  pain?"  She  fingered  the  fishbone  ring  and  smiled. 
"Nay,  'twere  a  sin  if  my  savior  took  not  his  entire  pleasure  this  very 
night,  ere  I  fly." 

"Prithee,  say  no  farther,"  Ebenezer  answered,  and  wondered  whether 
she  had  capitalized  the  word  savior.  "My  conscience  would  not  rest  were 
I  to  stand  'twixt  you  and  your  loving  father.  You  shall  have  the  ring."  He 
slipped  the  rawhide  thong  over  his  head  and  presented  her  with  the  ring 
of  Quassapelagh.  To  his  mild  annoyance  the  swine-maiden  did  not  imme- 
diately melt  with  gratitude;  indeed,  her  bearing  stiffened  as  she  took  the 
gift,  and  her  smile  showed  a  certain  bitterness. 

"Done,  then,"  she  said,  and  stuffed  the  ring  and  lanyard  into  a  pocket  of 
her  dress.  They  were  at  the  edge  of  the  woods,  by  a  tobacco-field;  the  moon 
rising  over  the  mouth  of  the  river  whitened  their  faces  and  the  flanks  of  the 
hogs  that  rooted  idly  in  the  green  tobacco.  Susan  stepped  out  into  the  field, 
laid  her  staff  on  the  ground  between  the  rows,  and  turned  to  face  them  with 
her  arms  akimbo. 

"Now,  Master  Laureate  of  Maryland,"  she  sighed,  "come  swive  me  in 
the  sot-weed  and  have  done  with't." 

The  poet  was  shocked.  "'Sheart,  Mrs.  Warren,  you  misconstrue  my 
gesture!" 

"Ah?"  She  tossed  her  uncombed  hair  back  from  her  face.  "Anon,  then, 
in  the  haymow  by  the  barn?  Surely  thou'rt  not  the  sort  that  wants  a  bed!" 

Ebenezer  stepped  forward  to  protest.  "I  beg  of  you,  madam " 

"  'Tis  not  your  servant's  presence  puts  ye  off,  now,  is  it?"  she  said  mock- 
ingly. "Ye  look  the  type  that  swives  in  broad  daylight,  let  watch  who  will! 
Would  it  please  ye  better  if  I  feign  a  rape?" 

"God  save  us,"  Bertrand  said,  "the  jade  hath  spirit!  Plague  take  the  hour 
I  lost  my  fishbone  ring!" 

"Enough!"  the  Laureate  cried.  "I  have  no  designs  upon  your  person, 


[220]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

Mrs.  Warren,  nor  do  I  want  reward  of  any  sort,  save  that  you  join  your 
father  and  throw  off  the  vicious  craving  that  hath  whored  you.  To  lay  with 
women  is  contrary  to  my  vows,  and  to  set  a  price  on  charity  is  an  insult  to 
my  principles." 

This  gave  the  swine-maid  pause;  she  folded  her  arms,,  turned  her  head 
away,  and  dug  a  pensive  toenail  in  the  dirt. 

"My  master  is  a  sort  of  rhyming  priest,"  Bertrand  explained  quickly.  "The 
bishop,  don't  you  know,  of  all  the  poets.  But  'tis  a  well-known  fact  that  the 
priest's  vows  are  not  binding  on  his  sexton,  nor  do  my  master's  principles 
extend  to  me " 

"Is't  principle  that  makes  your  master  scorn  me?"  Susan  interrupted,  and 
though  her  question  was  addressed  to  Bertrand  it  was  Ebenezer  she  re- 
garded "Or  is't  just  my  sorry  state  that  makes  him  moral?  He'd  sing  a  lustier 
tune,  methinks,  were  I  free  of  whip-scars  and  the  smell  o'  pigs,  and  young 
and  sprightly  as  the  girl  Joan  Toast." 

'What  name  is  this?"  cried  the  poet.  "Dear  God,  I  thought  you  said 
Joan  Toast!" 

Susan  nodded  affirmatively,  once  more  dissolving  into  tears.  "That  is 
the  girl  I  spoke  of,  that  anon  will  be  my  master's  newest  sister,  and  the 
death  of  Susan  Warren." 

Ebenezer  appealed  to  his  valet.  "  'Tis  too  fantastic,  Bertrand!" 

"I  scarce  can  credit  it  myself,  sir,"  Bertrand  said.  "Yet  there  is  that  passing 
likeness,  that  her  tale  explains." 

"'Tis  not  so  strange,"  the  girl  said  testily.  "For  all  her  sweet  airs,  this 
Joan  Toast  was  a  simple  whore  in  London  not  long  since,  and  many's  the 
man  hath  known  her." 

"I  forbid  you  to  speak  thus!"  the  Laureate  ordered.  "I  hold  a  certain 
reverence  for  Joan  Toast;  she  hath  a  strange  deep  home  in  me,  for 
reasons  known  to  none  besides  ourselves.  Where  is  she,  for  the  love  of  God? 
We  must  preserve  her  from  this  Mitchell!" 

"How  can  we?"  Bertrand  asked.  "We've  neither  weapons  nor  money." 

Ebenezer  grasped  the  swine-maiden's  arm.  'Tou  must  take  her  with  you 
to  your  father's  farm!"  he  said.  "Tell  her  your  tale  and  explain  the  peril  she 
is  in.  Once  I  arrive  at  Maiden  I  shall  fetch  her  there " 

"And  marry  her?"  asked  Susan  with  some  bitterness.  "Or  pimp  for  her 
instead,  and  keep  your  vows?" 

The  Laureate  blushed.  "  'Tis  not  the  time  for  speculations  and  conjec- 
tures!" 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  331  ] 

"In  any  case  I  cannot  take  her,"  Susan  said.  "I've  fare  for  but  a  single 
passage." 

"We  soon  can  alter  that!"  Bertrand  laughed,  and  leaped  to  pinion  both 
her  arms.  "Snatch  back  the  ring,  sir,  while  I  hold  her!" 

"You  pig!"  she  squealed.  "I'll  have  your  ugly  eyes  outl" 

"Nay,  Bertrand,"  Ebenezer  said,  "let  her  go." 

"This  sorry  jade?"  cried  Bertrand,  laughing  at  her  attempts  to  wriggle 
free.  "She's  but  a  hedge-whore,  sir!  Snatch  the  ring!" 

Ebenezer  shook  his  head  sadly.  "Hedge-whore  or  no,  I  gave  it  to  her  in 
all  good  faith,"  he  said.  "Besides,  we  do  not  know  this  boatman,  nor  where 
Joan  Toast  may  be.  Release  her." 

Bertrand  let  go  the  swine-girl's  arms  and  gave  her  a  sportive  pinch. 
She  squealed  another  curse,  picked  up  her  staff,  and  let  fly  at  him  a  blow 
that,  had  he  not  jumped  clear  of  it,  would  have  cost  him  several  ribs. 

"Ye'll  call  me  a  sorry  hedge-whore!"  she  said  fiercely,,  and  ran  him  off 
some  way  across  the  field.  Ebenezer,  much  more  concerned  about  Joan 
Toast  than  about  either  of  them,  set  off  with  a  thoughtful  frown  toward 
the  house. 

"Your  servant  is  a  lecherous  swine,"  said  Susan,  catching  tip  to  him  a 
moment  later.  She  brushed  her  hair  back  with  her  hand  and  prodded  the 
pigs  to  get  them  going.  "I  beg  your  pardon  for  running  him  off." 

"He  had  it  coming,"  the  poet  said  distractedly. 

"And  I  thank  ye  for  respecting  a  gift,  e'en  though  'twas  not  all  charity 
that  moved  ye.  Ye  must  think  highly  of  this  wench  Joan  Toast" 

"I  will  do  anything  to  save  her,"  Ebenezer  said. 

"I  think  I  can  arrange  it  with  the  boatman,"  Susan  said.  "He  hath  no 
use  for  me,  but  a  fresh  young  tart  like  Joan  hath  ways  to  please  the  feeblest." 

"Nay,  I  shan't  allow  it!  I  shall  find  some  other  way.  Where  is  she?" 

The  swine-girl  did  not  know  where  Joan  Toast  lived,  but  said  she  called 
on  Captain  Mitchell  nightly.  "This  very  night  he  plans  to  giye  her  opium, 
with  my  help.  I  shall  catch  her  ere  she  comes  in,  if  ye  wish,  and  send  her  to 
some  privy  place  to  meet  ye." 

Ebenezer  agreed  wholeheartedly  to  this  plan,,  and  though  he  quailed  at 
the  prospect  of  meeting  Captain  Mitchell,  Susan  persuaded  him  to  join 
the  planter  at  supper.  "The  Devil  himself  can  play  the  gentleman,"  she 
said.  "All  men  are  welcome  at  the  Captain's  board,  and  belike  he'll  change 
your  rags  for  something  better  when  he  hears  your  tale.  I'll  send  ye  word 
when  Joan  Toast  is  well  hid,  and  lead  ye  to  her  ere  I  set  out  for  my  father's." 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"Done!"  the  poet  exclaimed,  well  pleased.  "I  cannot  fathom  why  she  is 
in  Maryland,  but  I  shall  rejoice  to  see  her!" 

"And  prithee,  are  ye  sure  she'll  feel  the  same?"  the  swine-maid  teased. 
"Can  any  tart  believe  thou'rt  still  a  virgin?" 

"That  doth  not  matter,"  Ebenezer  declared.  "No  man  would  think  me 
Laureate,  either,  in  this  condition,  yet  Laureate  I  am,  and  virginal  as  well. 
Marry,  Susan,  how  I  yearn  to  see  that  girl!  I  beg  thee  not  to  fail  me!" 

Susan  sniffed  acknowledgment  and  they  came  up  to  the  house,  a  large 
but  ill-kept  split-log  dwelling.  It  squatted  amid  the  fields  of  green  tobacco 
and  weed-ridden  garden  crops,  and  the  bare  earth  round  about  it  was 
malodorous  with  the  stools  of  many  hens. 

"Methinks  your  master  hath  fallen  far,"  Ebenezer  observed,  "to  be  re- 
duced to  such  a  dwelling." 

"How's  that?"  the  woman  exclaimed.  "  Tis  one  o'  the  finest  on  the  river! 
Far  too  fine  a  seat  for  such  a  wicked  wretch  as  he!" 

Ebenezer  made  no  comment,  but  wondered  briefly  whether  to  cast  away 
certain  verses  in  his  head  which  praised  the  grace  of  Maryland's  dwellings, 
or  preserve  them  lest  Susan's  knowledge  prove  incomplete.  When  the 
swine-girl  left  him  in  order  to  drive  her  charges  back  to  the  barn,  he  called 
for  Bertrand,  who  came  forth  hurling  curses  after  her,  and  they  made  their 
way  to  the  front  of  the  house. 

"Pray  Heav'n  the  wench  is  right  about  her  master,"  Ebenezer  said,  and 
knocked  on  the  door. 

"I  would  not  trust  the  strumpet  twenty  paces,"  Bertrand  grumbled.  "The 
man  could  murther  us  in  our  sleep." 

The  door  was  opened  by  a  fleshy  man  in  his  fifties,  red-nosed  and  chop- 
whiskered,  who  had  nonetheless  an  air  of  good  breeding  about  his  person. 

"Good  evening,  gentlemen/'  he  said  with  a  slightly  mocking  bow.  His 
clothes  were  fashionable,  if  seedy,  and  the  excellent  gravity  of  his  voice 
came  partly  from  cultivation,  Ebenezer  suspected,  and  partly  from  a  well- 
liquored  laiynx.  Despite  their  wretched  appearance  he  was  as  hospitable  as 
Susan  had  predicted:  he  introduced  himself  as  Captain  William  Mitchell, 
invited  the  visitors  into  the  house  most  cordially,  and  insisted  they  stay  the 
night 

"Be  ye  from  Jail  or  college,"  he  declared,  "thou'rt  welcome  here,  I  swear. 
Dinner's  on  its  way,  and  do  ye  set  down  yonder  with  the  rest,  there's  cider 
to  whet  your  hunger." 

Ebenezer  thanked  his  host  and  launched  into  an  explanation  of  their 
plight— which,  however,  Captain  Mitchell  pleasantly  declined  to  hear,  sug- 


THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR  [  333  ] 

gesting  instead  that  it  serve  to  entertain  the  table.  The  guests  were  then 
led  to  the  dining-room,  from  which  sounds  of  merriment  had  all  along  been 
issuing,  and  were  introduced  to  a  company  of  half  a  dozen  planters  of  the 
neighborhood,  among  whom,  to  his  considerable  surprise,  Ebenezer  saw 
the  clip-eared  old  ferryman  and  one  or  two  others  who  had  stood  that  day 
in  Scotch  cloth  on  the  landing.  They  greeted  him  merrily  and  without 
malice. 

"We  looked  for  ye  to  join  us,  Mister  Cooke,"  one  said.  "Ye  must  forgive 
Jim  Keech's  little  prank/' 

"To  be  sure,"  Ebenezer  said,  seeing  no  other  position  to  take.  "HI  grant 
I  look  more  like  a  beggar  than  the  Poet  Laureate  of  Maryland,  but  when 
you've  heard  what  trials  my  man  and  I  have  suffered,,  you  may  appreciate 
our  state." 

"We  shall,  I'm  sure/'  the  host  said  soothingly.  "Indeed  we  shall."  He 
then  sent  Bertrand  to  eat  back  in  the  kitchen  and  directed  Ebenezer  to  a 
seat  at  the  dinner  table,  which  made  up  in  quantity  what  it  lacked  in 
elegance.  Being  very  hungry,  Ebenezer  fell  to  at  once  and  stuffed  himself 
with  pone,  milk,  hominy,  and  cider-pap  flavored  with  bacon  fat  and 
dulcified  with  molasses,  washing  down  the  whole  with  hard  cider  from  the 
cask  that  stood  at  hand.  He  had,  in  fact,  debated  for  a  moment  the  wisdom 
of  revealing  his  identity,  but  since  he  had  already  revealed  it  on  impulse 
to  the  men  on  the  landing,  and  since  the  company  showed  no  trace  of 
hostility,  he  saw  no  harm  in  relating  the  whole  of  the  story.  This  he  pro- 
ceeded to  do  when  the  meal  was  finished  and  all  the  guests  had  retired  to 
greasy  leather  couches  in  the  parlor;  he  left  out  only  the  political  aspects  of 
his  capture  and  the  adventure  with  Drakepecker  and  the  Anacostin  King, 
whose  safety  he  feared  the  tale  might  jeopardize.  His  audience  attended 
with  great  interest,  especially  when  he  came  to  the  rape  of  the  Cyprian — 
his  tongue  inspired  by  the  rum-keg  in  the  parlor,  Ebenezer  spoke  with 
graphic  eloquence  of  Boabdil  in  the  mizzen-rigging  and  the  nobly  insouci- 
ant ladies  at  the  larboard  rail— yet  when  done  he  saw,  to  his  mild  chagrin, 
small  signs  of  the  pity  and  terror  that  he  thought  his  tale  must  eyoke  in  the 
most  callous  auditor:  instead,  the  men  applauded  as  if  at  some  performance, 
and  Captain  Mitchell,  so  far  from  commiserating,  requested  him  to  recite  a 
poem  or  two  by  way  of  encore. 

"I  fear  I  must  decline,"  the  Laureate  said,  not  a  little  piqued.  "This  day 
hath  been  fatiguing,  and  my  voice  is  spent." 

"Too  bad  our  Timmy  is  not  with  us,"  said  Jim  Keech  of  the  branded 
palm.  "He'd  spin  ye  one  would  ferry  ye  'cross  the  Bay!" 


[  334  ]  THE  SOT-WEED  FACTOR 

"My  son  Tim's  no  mean  hand  at  rhymes  himself/'  Captain  Mitchell  ex- 
plained to  Ebenezer,  "but  ye  might  say  they're  of  a  somewhat  coarser 
breed." 

"He  is  a  laureate  too,"  Jim  Keech  affirmed  with  a  grin.  "He  calls  himself 
the  Laureate  of  Lubricity,  that  he  says  means  simple  smut." 

"Indeed?"  the  poet  said,  more  out  of  politeness  than  genuine  curiosity. 
"I  did  not  know  our  host  possessed  a  son." 

He  was,  in  fact,  preoccupied  with  thoughts  of  Joan  Toast  and  the  swine- 
maiden,  of  whom  he'd  been  reminded  by  Keech's  reference  to  crossing 
the  Bay.  Captain  Mitchell  apologized  to  tie  group